Date of Paper


Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)


Social Work

First Advisor

Catherine Marrs Fuchsel


Social Work


Spirituality is defined as “an individual’s connection or relationship with God or with some other kind of transcendent being or dimension (Hodge & Horvath, 2011, p. 307).” Based on past literature, a patient’s spiritual or faith belief has the potential to influence their healthcare outcomes, coping ability, decision-making surrounding their healthcare, as well as their quality of life (Puchalski, Ferrell, Otis-Green, & Handzo, 2015). As social workers in the medical setting aim to provide psychosocial support, the inclusion of a spiritual assessment to determine the spiritual and faith needs of each patient in order to deliver individual patient care seems necessary. The purpose of this study is to examine medical social workers’ understanding of spirituality in patient care. The study included qualitative interviews with eight graduate level social workers who have professional experience in a medical setting. The interviews examined areas related to professional experiences in assessing and providing spiritual care in a medical setting and six themes were discovered: (a) Assessing Religion Versus Values, (b) Presence of a Spiritual Assessment, (c) Social Workers Comfort with Spirituality, (d) Social Workers Expectation to Assess Patient’s Spirituality, (e) Education and Training, and (f) the Role of Chaplains and Clergy. The findings of this study indicated there was a lack of training and education provided to social workers within this professional area. In addition, there was a lack of consistency in the assessment of spiritual beliefs due to uncertainty of professional role and expectations. The findings also support the importance of language when assessing for spirituality and the relationship between personal and professional comfort in providing spiritual care.

Included in

Social Work Commons