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Nursing and spirituality

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Those matters that are judged to be spiritual are seen as especially valuable and important. For this reason it is claimed that nurses need to be able to offer spiritual care when appropriate and, to aid them in this, nurse theorists have discussed the nature of spirituality. In a recent debate John Paley has argued that nurses should adopt a naturalistic stance which would enable them to employ the insights of modern science. Barbara Pesut has criticized this thesis, especially as it is applied to palliative care. This paper re-examines this debate with particular attention to the meaning of ‘spirituality’ and the justification for accepting spiritual and religious theories. It is argued that when we take into consideration the great diversity among religious and spiritual ideas, the lack of rational means of deciding between them when they conflict, and the practicalities of nursing, we find that a spiritual viewpoint is less useful than a naturalistic one, when offering palliative care.

Keywords: decision procedures; naturalism; nursing; palliative care; religion; science; spiritual care; spirituality

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: April 1, 2009


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