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The Ars Moriendi Model for Spiritual Assessment: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation

Mieke Vermandere
Franca Warmenhoven
Evie Van Severen
Jan De Lepeleire
Bert Aertgeerts
ONF 2015, 42(4), 294-301 DOI: 10.1188/15.ONF.294-301

Purpose/Objectives: To explore nurses’ and physicians’ experiences with the ars moriendi model (AMM) for spiritual assessment.

Design: Convergent, parallel, mixed-methods.

Setting: Palliative home care in Belgium.

Sample: 17 nurses and 4 family physicians (FPs) in the quantitative phase, and 19 nurses and 5 FPs in the later qualitative phase.

Methods: A survey was used to investigate first impressions after a spiritual assessment. Descriptive statistics were applied for the analysis of the survey. In a semistructured interview a few weeks later, nurses and physicians were asked to describe their experiences with using the AMM. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed, and qualitatively analyzed. Quantitative and qualitative results were compared to see whether the findings were confirmative.

Main Research Variables: The survey assessed the feasibility of the AMM for use in palliative home care, whereas the semistructured interviews collected in-depth descriptions of healthcare providers’ (HCPs’) experiences with the AMM.

Findings: The AMM was perceived as valuable. Many patients shared their wishes and expectations about the end of life. Most HCPs said they felt that the patient-provider relationship had been strengthened as a result of the spiritual assessment. Almost all assessments raised new issues; however, many dyads had informally discussed spiritual issues before.

Conclusions: The current study suggests that HCPs believe that the AMM is a useful spiritual assessment tool. Guided by the model, HCPs can gather information about the context, life story, and meaningful connections of patients, which enables them to facilitate person-centered care.

Implications for Nursing: The AMM appears to be an important tool for spiritual assessment that can offer more insight into patients’ spirituality and help nurses to establish person-centered end-of-life care.

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