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Service Users’ Beliefs and Experiences of Spirituality in a Mental Health Inpatient Unit in Aotearoa New Zealand

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posted on 2024-03-03, 20:38 authored by Patrick White

This research aimed to explore spirituality from the vantage point of service users who experienced significant mental distress that required inpatient admission to a mental health unit in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

The study explored the questions: “How do Aotearoa New Zealand mental health service users describe their spiritual beliefs and experiences, and do these assist in their wellbeing?”. A qualitative description design influenced by phenomenology was employed to explore the topic. The key aims of the study were to understand the beliefs and experiences of spirituality among service users; explore the role of spirituality in the wellbeing of service users; explore service users’ experiences of engagement with mental health nurses and clinicians with spiritual care; and disseminate the findings to ensure that service users’ voices on spirituality are considered.

A random sample from the inpatient database of a local mental health unit was chosen. Five participants were interviewed and the data was analysed using inductive and deductive processes.

Four themes emerged: adverse experiences have a profound effect on service users; spiritual beliefs and experiences are important to service users; spiritual practices for service users are diverse; and service users’ experiences of engagement in spiritual care with mental health nurses and others were mixed.

Research implications call for greater engagement with spirituality for service users, including Māori, Pacifica, other cultures, and chaplaincy services within mental services. The study also advocates for nurses to reflect on their spirituality and how they could support the engagement of spiritual care.

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University of Auckland

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