The demand for competencies in spiritual care in nursing and midwifery education: a literature review

Josephine Attard, Donia Baldacchino


Spirituality is embedded in nursing and midwifery practice and within the role of nurses and midwives. As a result, spirituality is an important element in nursing and midwifery education and practice, an area which has largely been ignored, in spite of the constant call of Professional Bodies for spiritual care competence in the provision of holistic care. This review aimed to analyze the existing literature and research to define competency and identify the key issues around the demand for competencies and education in spiritual care in nursing and midwifery. A search for articles in English was carried out using various search engines, using keywords: ‘competence, competency, definition, nursing, midwifery practice’. The findings showed that consensus on the definition of competency is still inconsistent. The majority of literature acknowledges the dimensions of knowledge, skills and attitudes which support the three components in Bloom’s Taxonomy namely, the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. Competence in spiritual care is guided by Benner’s theory: From novice to expert. Key issues were identified explaining the demand for competence in spiritual care such as, the complexity of spirituality and spiritual care which requires formal integration of spiritual care within the curricula by incorporating both the ‘taught’ and ‘caught’ perspectives of teaching and learning. Assessment of competence in nursing/midwifery education demands the formulation of generic and specific competencies oriented towards knowledge, skills and attitudes towards spiritual care. Thus, further research is suggested to develop a framework of competencies to be achieved by undergraduate and postgraduate students.


Competences; Spiritual care; Nursing and midwifery education.

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