Older, Seriously Ill Veterans' Views on the Role of Religion and Spirituality in Health-Care Delivery.
OBJECTIVES: To describe older Veteran's perspectives on the current delivery of religious or spiritual (R/S) care. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews with older veterans with advanced stage cancer, heart failure, or pulmonary disease to elicit views on when, how, and by whom religious and spiritual care is preferred. RESULTS: The sample (n = 17) was largely male (94%), non-Hispanic white (52.9%), Christian (82.3%), and most had at least some college education (64.7%). Participants shared diagnoses of cancer (47%), heart failure (35.2%), or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (17.6%). As a group, participants had moderate religiosity. Themes relevant to the study goal of improving VA care delivery are as follows: (1) process of R/S engagement, (2) timing of R/S engagement, and (3) awareness of services. Veterans discussed the need for VA providers to accommodate diverse spiritual beliefs, importance of screening for spiritual needs, inclusion of family spiritual support, need for higher visibility of services, use of nonchaplains for R/S support, and times when R/S is important. DISCUSSION: Veterans recognize the diversity of their fellow veterans and note the opportunities and challenges in providing R/S support in the VA care setting. The findings have implications for quality improvement in VA care including efforts focused on enhanced outreach to veterans, bolstered education for staff, and more nuanced approaches to R/S support.
Boucher, NA; Steinhauser, KE; Johnson, KS
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