Talking about spirituality doesn’t have to be difficult

By March 6, 2018 2 Comments
CommunicationInterprofessionalSpiritual Care

Every aspect of the person is affected by serious and life-limiting illness. This is also true for family members who care for their loved ones in times of illness. Healthcare providers are typically comfortable addressing physical, mental, and emotional aspects of illness, but addressing the spiritual dimension still raises anxiety levels for many providers who don’t feel they are equipped to talk about spirituality with patients or their families. But talking about spirituality doesn’t have to be difficult.

See how Julie supports Maria’s spiritual concerns in this brief video.


The video you just watched illustrates how natural it can be to talk with family members about spiritual resources that will help both family and patient cope more effectively during a stressful time. In this case, the family has recently made a difficult decision about the use of a feeding tube. Decisions like this are often catalysts for family conflicts around competing core values. These decisions can leave family members with lingering questions and feelings of guilt, anger and fear. Simply listening to their concerns is an act of spiritual care.

In this video, Julie demonstrates good communications skills that include noticing signs of spirituality, asking open-ended questions about the patient’s spiritual life, listening attentively, and taking action to help this patient and family stay connected to spiritual resources that are helpful to them. All palliative care providers are equipped to take these simple steps that can make a tremendous difference in the lives of their patients and families.

This video is one of a series used in the Interprofessional Graduate Certificate and Master of Science in Palliative Care Program at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Click here for more information about the program.



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