Incorporation of spiritual care as a component of healthcare and medical education: viewpoints of healthcare providers and trainees in Nigeria

Alimatu-Sadia Akeredolu, Mark T Harbinson, David Bell

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Patients frequently want clinicians to be aware of their spiritual values and needs. There is increasing recognition in Europe and North America of the benefits from incorporating spiritual care into overall patient management.


This study captures views of healthcare providers at two maternity units in Lagos on the place for spiritual care within healthcare training and delivery in Nigeria. A questionnaire was designed using a 5-point ordinal scale, with additional free text comments, to capture views of Nigerian doctors and nurses and trainees.


Of 86 respondents, 89% agreed that spiritual health contributes to physical health, and 83% that an individual’s faith can affect health and recovery in the event of illness. 92% acknowledged that religious faith or personal spirituality is significant for many patients and 73% that spiritual care is an important aspect of patient management. Although 71% recognised that patients wanted doctors to be aware of their spiritual needs, only 29% felt that clinicians should share their own spiritual values with patients and respondents were divided on the extent to which as clinicians they should become personally involved with 32% preferring to leave provision of spiritual care to others with specific expertise. 58% were supportive of inclusion of training in spiritual care into medical and nursing curricula as an optional component but respondents did not express strong preferences in regard to content or format.


In view of the potential benefits, basic training in taking spiritual histories and identifying spiritual needs amenable to specialist intervention is advocated to enable healthcare providers to meet patient expectations in provision of spiritual care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-104
Number of pages15
JournalThe Nigerian Health Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2017


  • medical education
  • nursing education
  • Nigeria
  • whole-person care


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