Supporting spiritual care in patient care: a qualitative study of barriers and facilitators of hospital nurses in the role of Link Nurse Spiritual Care
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BACKGROUND For many hospitalized patients, spiritual care is important. However, the spiritual dimension is not always an integrated part of nurses’ professional behavior. Previous research showed that the appointment of Link Nurses Spiritual Care (LNSCs) in a hospital can lead, in the short term, to a greater awareness of the spiritual needs of patients in nurses and more regular and competent provision of spiritual care. It is therefore important to find strategies to sustain these positive outcomes. Identifying facilitators of and tackling barriers to spiritual care is therefore important to achieve consistent improvements. AIM This study explores hospital nurses’ experiences of the barriers to and facilitators of their ability to competently perform their role as LNSC with regard to spiritual care support, one year after implementation of the role. METHOD A generic descriptive qualitative approach was used. Semi-structured interviews with LNSCs led by an interview guide were performed. Thematic analysis was used for data analysis. RESULTS Eight LNSCs were interviewed. Four themes were identified: professional confidence, time, support and coaching, and team culture. These themes were theorized as factors, the presence of which act as a facilitator, while their absence acts as a barrier to performing the LNSC role competently. In this study, the lack of time for the role was the greatest barrier for the participants, while support and coaching was the most present factor, making it the greatest facilitator. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS Results from this study indicate that to sustain the promising results from previous research, all four factors should be strengthened. Emphasis should be placed on the key factors of professional confidence and time. Organizations should focus on scheduling time monthly, and the LNSCs’ professional confidence should be optimized by extending their intercollegiate meetings with educational sessions.