From triple helix - Winter 2012 - Spiritual Assessment in Healthcare Practice [p20]
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Wilfred McSherry and Linda Ross (eds)
M & K Publishing, 2010
£27 Pb 190pp
ISBN 978 1 90553 927 7
The editors have brought together contributors from nursing, medicine, theology, and chaplaincy from the US and Europe to offer a broad perspective on spiritual care and assessment. I found the excellent and practical spiritual history chapter by Christina Puchalski especially relevant. She suggests that the first step in communicating about spiritual issues is to show a genuine interest and compassion. The second step is to listen carefully to identify and respond to spiritual or religious themes. These include meaninglessness and feeling worthless as well as religious distress. She helpfully lays out a simple set of targeted questions which can be used in medical student teaching.
The book is up to date with British and US healthcare developments and controversies such as praying with patients. John Swinton's helpful chapter explains various secular approaches to spiritual care. The limitations of such approaches are stated with clinicians encouraged to also identify and help patients meet their religious needs. This allowed me as a Christian to understand how this broader construct of spiritual distress can be at times a stepping stone to Christian witness.
Scott A Murray leads the Primary Palliative Care Research Group, University of Edinburgh