Diaconal values and spiritual and existential care for vulnerable patient groups within Norwegian health care

Addressing the spiritual and existential needs of vulnerable patient groups demands a high level of expertise. However, research reveals that healthcare providers often feel uncertain about delivering spiritual and existential care, and many patients report that they receive insufficient spiritual and existential support.

Published 16.16. Mars 2020, 14:07

Last updated 25.25. Februar 2021, 14:43

Current research within the field of psychology of religion demonstrates that faith/spirituality and meaning in life can have an important influence on how patients cope with illness, functional decline and crises. Spiritual and existential care needs usually emerge when patients feel especially vulnerable. The Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services (Future Care 2012 -13) emphasizes that the health care system must pay more attention to patients’ spiritual and existential needs in order to offer holistic high-quality care. Developments in the field of spiritual and existential care must be based on the best knowledge for practice.

About the group

The group aims to:

  • explore vulnerable patient groups’ spiritual and existential care needs
  • explore healthcare providers’ spiritual and existential care practice within specialist and community-based health care contexts

Group members are experienced researchers within the field and have expertise in qualitative and quantitative approaches. Members also have professional experience within health and social sciences, pedagogy, theology and diaconal practice as well as experience with clinical care for vulnerable patient groups.

The group has a broad inter-institutional composition, with members from Lovisenberg Diaconal University College, MF Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo, The Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo, University of Tromsø, and Signo Conrad Svendsen Center in Oslo.

Our research interests:

  • To explore and illuminate vulnerable patient groups’ spiritual and existential concerns and their need for spiritual and existential care within different Norwegian healthcare contexts.
  • To develop knowledge about good spiritual and existential care practice for these patient groups
  • To explore measures aimed at developing health care providers’ competence in spiritual and existential care
  • To explore how nursing students’ competence in spiritual and existential care can be strengthened at different levels of nursing education

The research group’s objectives for 2018-2021

  • To establish contact with interdisciplinary and inter-institutional partners locally, nationally and internationally.
  • From 2019 apply for funds to establish a shared project within the main focus of the group.
  • Contribute to expand the publishing activity within the group’s research field.