The role of spirituality in spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation: exploring health professional perspectives
Kate F Jones, Pat Dorsett, Lynne Briggs & Grahame K Simpson
Objectives: To explore the perspectives of health professionals (HPs) regarding the role of spirituality in spinal cord injury (SCI) rehabilitation.
Setting: Single centre rehabilitation hospital, NSW, Australia.
Methods: Two focus groups (n = 12) were conducted with HPs (e.g., nursing, allied health, medical) working in SCI inpatient rehabilitation. A semi-structured interview was employed, consisting of questions about spirituality and its role in SCI rehabilitation. The groups were audio recorded and transcribed. An inductive thematic analysis was conducted.
Results: Six themes were identified from the focus group data: (i) the meaning of spirituality; (ii) spirituality as a help; (iii) spirituality as a hindrance; (iv) how spirituality is indirectly addressed in practice; (v) perceived barriers to incorporating spirituality into practice; (vi) how spirituality can be better integrated into practice. HPs recognised that spirituality played an important role in the adjustment of many individuals and their families after SCI. However, spirituality was not proactively addressed during SCI rehabilitation, and most often arose during informal interactions with clients. Spirituality, and specifically religious belief, was perceived to sometimes raise difficulties for clients and staff. The use of physical space and a review of rehabilitation processes were suggested by HPs as two ways spirituality could be better incorporated into practice.
Conclusions: The findings of this study reveal that spiritual needs of clients and their family members during SCI rehabilitation are important and could be better addressed. A range of initiatives are proposed, including staff training and the use of standardised spiritual assessment tools.