The spiritual history in outpatient practice: attitudes and practices of health professionals in the Adventist Health System.
BACKGROUND: A screening spiritual history (SSH) is how health professionals (HP) identify patients' spiritual values, beliefs and preferences (VBPs) in the outpatient setting. We report on attitudes and practices of HPs in the largest Protestant health system in the U.S., the Adventist Health System (AHS). METHOD: Physicians or mid-level practitioners (N = 1082) in AHS-affiliated practices were approached and 513 (47%) agreed to participate. Participants were asked to identify a "spiritual care coordinator" (nurse/staff) and complete a questionnaire that assessed demographics, practice characteristics, religious involvement, and attitudes/practices concerning the SSH. Prevalence and predictors of attitudes/practices were identified. RESULTS: Questionnaires were completed by 427 physicians, 86 mid-level practitioners, and 224 nurses/staff (i.e., spiritual care coordinators). Among physicians, 45% agreed that HPs should take a SSH; of mid-level practitioners, 56% agreed; and of nurses/staff, 54% agreed. A significant proportion (range 31-54%) agreed that physicians should take the SSH. Participants indicated a SSH is appropriate for all outpatients (46-57%), well-visit exams (50-60%), the chronically ill (71-75%) and terminally ill (79-82%). A majority agreed the SSH should be documented in the medical record (67-80%). Few (11-17%) currently took a SSH, although most were at least sometimes willing to take a SSH (87-94%) or review the results thereof (86-98%). Self-rated importance of religion was the strongest predictor of SSH attitudes/practices. CONCLUSIONS: Many in the AHS say a SSH should be done, are willing to do it, and are willing to review the results, although few currently do so. Education, training, and support may help HPs identify and address patients' spiritual VBPs.
Koenig, HG; Perno, K; Hamilton, T
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