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The Frequency of Spiritual Care at the End of Life 

The Frequency of Spiritual Care at the End of Life
The Frequency of Spiritual Care at the End of Life

Michael J. Balboni

, and Tracy A. Balboni

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date: 28 October 2020

Data suggest that clinicians infrequently provide spiritual care within life-threatening illness, at least within the perspective of patients’ accounts. Boston patients indicate that 13% of patient–nurse relationships and 6% of patient–physician relationships at any point in their clinical relationship entailed a spiritual care encounter. Nurses and physicians perceive spiritual care to be a more frequent occurrence. The gap in perception that exists may partially be due to underlying religious demographic differences between patients, nurses, and physicians. While most patients experience illness as a spiritual event, and there are notable medical outcomes and growing national guidelines calling for clinician spiritual care, by most accounts, including nurses and physicians, spiritual care seldom occurs. Questions arise regarding why physicians neglect or avoid providing spiritual care in serious illness.

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