Spiritual Needs and Satisfaction with Service Provision: Mediating Pathways among a National Sample of Hospital Inpatients

Sep 25, 2014

swrHospitalization almost always puts additional stress on a patient’s life. As a result, provisions for patients’ spiritual and emotional needs are a necessary part of a positive, healing hospital experience. But how can patient satisfaction with the spiritual aspects of service provision be quantified?

In a recent article in Social Work Research, David R. Hodge, PhD, and Robert Wolosin, PhD, attempt to assess which aspects of service provision most provide for the spiritual needs of hospital inpatients. Using data gathered from patient satisfaction surveys, they assessed the satisfaction in such areas as: the admissions process, the room quality, meals, nurses, tests, visitors, physicians, and the discharge process.

They arrived at some interesting results:

  • Nurses play a particularly important role in mediating the relationship between spiritual needs and satisfaction. Less consequential roles were played by physicians, visitors, admissions personnel and room quality.
  • This suggests that visiting clergy are less impactful in meeting patient spiritual needs than nurses.
  • This also suggests roles that hospital social workers can take in mediating patient spiritual needs.

As Hodge and Wolosin point out:

Social workers can facilitate such interactions by alerting physicians and nurses about patients’ needs and cuing them regarding appropriate interpersonal dynamics, especially in cross-cultural contexts where social workers’ applied training in diversity and cultural competency may be helpful. …[S]ocial workers may be able to identify these needs through the administration of a spiritual assessment. Directly meeting these identified needs or linking patients with the resources needed to meet these concerns can play a crucial role in enhancing wellness.

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