chapter  5
Spiritual distress
ByMabel Aghadiuno
Pages 42

This chapter shows that importance of considering the spiritual dimension in a PERSON-with-illness. Health professionals and carers may feel that they do not have the skills to do a spiritual assessment. Studies have demonstrated that most people have a spiritual life and most patients want their spiritual needs assessed and addressed. Nearly all the respondents–96%–believed that spiritual well-being is an important component in health and 58% thought that doctors should address the spiritual concerns of their patients. Patients may communicate their spiritual distress through symptoms and signs such as withdrawal, anxiety, denial, apathy, anger, irritability, emotional distress and difficulty sleeping. The important thing for the healthcare practitioner is not to reach immediately for an antidepressant or hypnotic or worse subtly choose to pretend the problem is not there. In fact, an increased awareness of the importance of the spiritual assessment does not mean that every patient needs one. Finally, patient narratives are a means of taking the spiritual history.