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Arndt Büssing

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date: 03 December 2021

Addressing patients’ spirituality in health care can be done by semi-structured interviews, which have the benefit to provide more in-depth insights and engaging the patient in dialogue, or with standardized questionnaires, which have the benefit to compare the respective scores with those of other cohorts and studies. Each approach has advantages and limitations. When addressing spirituality in health care, one has to be aware that some instruments may share overlapping constructs. Thus, one has to clearly define the intention of the assessment and to specify primary and secondary end points (to avoid weak design and statistical problems such as multiple testing, and false positive inter-correlations), and subsequent selection of appropriate instruments. Short and circumscribed measures can be easily integrated in larger studies, but may represent just a limited facet of a complex spectrum of spirituality/religiosity. In contrast, broader conceptualizations of spirituality/religiosity may require more differentiated measures, and thus a higher number of items and scales which are often difficult to integrate. Depending on your intention, one may choose either circumscribed uni-/bi-dimensional scales (diagnostic), or a wide spectrum of different aspects of spirituality (differentiating analyses) which have to fit to the spiritual context of culture and country. Because spirituality/religiosity is a complex construct involving cognitive, emotional and behavioural aspects, one may address the interconnected layers of spirituality (which all may have an impact on an individual’s wellbeing and quality of life) with specific instruments.

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