Responding to people who are experiencing spiritual pain
Intended for healthcare professionals

Responding to people who are experiencing spiritual pain

Barry Gerard Quinn Senior Lecturer, School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen’s University Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Why you should read this article:
  • To understand that pain can be spiritual as well as physical, social and emotional

  • To be aware of how spiritual pain may manifest and how to respond to it

  • To count towards revalidation as part of your 35 hours of CPD, or you may wish to write a reflective account (UK readers)

  • To contribute towards your professional development and local registration renewal requirements (non-UK readers)

This article explores the spiritual pain that patients may experience, which is often hidden or overlooked in healthcare settings that tend to focus on managing physical manifestations of pain. As part of their role in responding to patients’ needs, nurses need to be willing to engage with spirituality, which is an important aspect of many people’s lives. This article examines the meaning of spirituality and how spirituality may – or may not – relate to religious beliefs. It describes a whole-person approach to understanding the physical, social, emotional and spiritual dimensions of pain, and how this may assist nurses in recognising and addressing patients’ spiritual needs. The article also explores attributes, skills and resources that can support nurses in responding to spiritual pain, including a caring presence, courage, compassion, and respect for other people’s beliefs and values.

Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11523

Peer review

This article has been subject to external double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software



Conflict of interest

None declared

Quinn BG (2020) Responding to people who are experiencing spiritual pain. Nursing Standard. doi: 10.7748/ns.2020.e11523

Published online: 05 March 2020

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