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Addressing Patients' Emotional and Spiritual Needs

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Background: A comprehensive, systematic literature review and original research were conducted to ascertain whether patients' emotional and spiritual needs are important, whether hospitals are effective in addressing these needs, and what strategies should guide improvement.

Methods: The literature review was conducted in August 2002. Patient satisfaction data were derived from the Press Ganey Associates' 2001 National Inpatient Database; survey data were collected from 1,732,562 patients between January 2001 and December 2001.

Results: Data analysis revealed a strong relationship between the "degree to which staff addressed emotional/spiritual needs" and overall patient satisfaction. Three measures most highly correlated with this measure of emotional/spiritual care were (1) staff response to concerns/complaints, (2) staff effort to include patients in decisions about treatment, and (3) staff sensitivity to the inconvenience that health problems and hospitalization can cause.

Discussion: The emotional and spiritual experience of hospitalization remains a prime opportunity for QI. Suggestions for improvement include the immediate availability of resources, appropriate referrals to chaplains or leaders in the religious community, a team dedicated to evaluating and improving the emotional and spiritual care experience, and standardized elicitation and meeting of emotional and spiritual needs. Survey data suggested a focus on response to concerns/complaints, treatment decision making, and staff sensitivity.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-12-01

More about this publication?
  • Published monthly, The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety is a peer-reviewed publication dedicated to providing health professionals with the information they need to promote the quality and safety of health care. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety invites original manuscripts on the development, adaptation, and/or implementation of innovative thinking, strategies, and practices in improving quality and safety in health care. Case studies, program or project reports, reports of new methodologies or new applications of methodologies, research studies on the effectiveness of improvement interventions, and commentaries on issues and practices are all considered.

    David W. Baker, MD, MPH, FACP, executive vice president for the Division of Healthcare Quality Evaluation at The Joint Commission, is the inaugural editor-in-chief of The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.

    Also known as Joint Commission Journal on Quality Improvement and Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Safety
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