Factors contributing to student nurses'/midwives' perceived competency in spiritual care

Linda Ross, Tove Giske, René van Leeuwen, Donia Baldacchino, Wilfred McSherry, Aru Narayanasamy, Paul Jarvis, Annemiek Schep-Akkerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The spiritual part of life is important to health, well-being and quality of life. Spiritual care is expected of nurses/midwives, but it is not clear how students can achieve competency in spiritual care at point of registration as required by regulatory bodies.

AIM: To explore factors contributing to undergraduate nurses'/midwives' perceived competency in giving spiritual care.

DESIGN: A pilot cross-sectional, multinational, correlational survey design.

METHOD: Questionnaires were completed by 86% (n=531) of a convenience sample of 618 undergraduate nurses/midwives from six universities in four countries in 2010. Bivariate and multivariate analyses were performed.

RESULTS: Differences between groups were small. Two factors were significantly related to perceived spiritual care competency: perception of spirituality/spiritual care and student's personal spirituality. Students reporting higher perceived competency viewed spirituality/spiritual care broadly, not just in religious terms. This association between perceived competency and perception of spirituality is a new finding not previously reported. Further results reinforce findings in the literature that own spirituality was a strong predictor of perceived ability to provide spiritual care, as students reporting higher perceived competency engaged in spiritual activities, were from secular universities and had previous healthcare experience. They were also religious, practised their faith/belief and scored highly on spiritual well-being and spiritual attitude/involvement.

CONCLUSIONS: The challenge for nurse/midwifery educators is how they might enhance spiritual care competency in students who are not religious and how they might encourage students who hold a narrow view of spirituality/spiritual care to broaden their perspective to include the full range of spiritual concerns that patients/clients may encounter. Statistical models created predicted factors contributing to spiritual care competency to some extent but the picture is complex requiring further investigation involving a bigger and more diverse longitudinal sample.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-451
Number of pages7
JournalNurse Education Today
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nurse Midwives
  • Professional Competence
  • Spirituality
  • Students, Nursing
  • Young Adult


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