Spiritual Care is Not the Hospital’s Business’: a Qualitative Study on the Perspectives of Patients about the Integration of Spirituality in Healthcare Settings

Pujol N., Jobin G., Beloucif S., Journal of Medical Ethics, Vol. 42 (2016), p. 733-737.



Several studies have investigated the relationship between spirituality and health. They claim the need to develop spiritual care to answer patients’ spiritual suffering and to promote spiritual well-being. However, the present study critically analyses the following idea: we ought to take care of the spiritual dimension of patients. Does this interest for spirituality not come from healthcare professionals’ desire more than from the patients themselves?


To answer this question, we explored the perspectives of individuals with cancer regarding the integration of spirituality in the healthcare setting.


Qualitative design using semistructured interviews to focus on subjective experience.


One of the major public hospitals of Paris, France.


20 participants (n=11 men and n=9 women) with advanced cancer (stage IV). Age ranges from 37 to 80 years with a mean age of 58.7 years.


Findings demonstrated that participants do not expect help from the hospital to handle spiritual issues but they wish for their spiritual dimension to be simply recognised as a part of their identity and dignity.


Findings invite us to view the question of spirituality not as a new dimension of care but as a new challenge for healthcare institutions to recognise that the persons they are working for are not just ‘patients’ but human beings with a precious interior life.