When it comes to facilitating spiritual care for patients with worldviews different from your own, what are your strengths and weaknesses? If you were the patient, who would have the final say in terms of ethical decision-making and intervention in the event of a difficult situation?
The concept of a spiritual worldview incorporates religion and spirituality, as well as
many other philosophical or popular beliefs and reference points that make assumptions about the larger context of human existence (Josephson & Peteet, 2004). For many people, their worldview is the most important thing in their lives with a deciding role in directing behavior; guiding attitudes to health, work and relationships; and strongly influencing how they regard themselves and others. As a professional nurse I put aside my personal views and not try to compare them to that of the patients’. That way I am able to focus on the task and needs of the patient at hand. You don’t have to agree with someone’s spiritual beliefs anymore than you have to agree with their political views or taste in music. Simply show an interest in their perspective. If you are asked about your views it is up to you whether you share them or not. It is OK to say that you’d rather not disclose them, or to say that you have a different way of seeing things – as long as you
return the focus of the conversation to the patient and don’t dwell on your perspective.
Thinking about religion and spirituality as dimensions of a person’s spiritual worldview helps us to be responsive to the complex and diverse ways in which people personalize their beliefs. This means we are less likely to make assumptions about their needs, wishes and practices based on a generalized term on their admission paperwork. Furthermore, understanding the patient’s worldview helps us to develop a better understanding of the patient and their context; assists in the development of informed and comprehensive treatment plans; contributes to the collaborative dialogue that encourages patients to commit to treatment regimens and healthy-living practices; lets patients know that we are concerned with the whole person; lastly, helps us to support spiritual patients to tap into resources that may contribute to improved coping and wellbeing. If I were in the position that I couldn’t make my own decisions and the individual that I have designated as my health proxy was not present to make decisions on my behalf, I would want a my personal doctor to make decisions for me. I have built a close patient / health care provide relationship with my doctor that I would trust her professional judgement.
Josephson, A., & Peteet, J. (2004). Handbook of spirituality and worldview in clinical
practice Washington DC: American Psychiatric Publishing