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In some quarters there is confusion and expressed uncertainty about the meaning of 'spirituality'; exactly what is spirituality, what does it do, and what does it mean to be spiritual, how does a person exercise spirituality, and what are some benefits derived from spirituality. The following article attempts to shed light on this problem by offering several concepts and theories associated with the meaning and idea of spirituality from a health and nursing perspective.

Ruth A. Tanyi states that she "...aims to contribute toward clarification of the meaning of spirituality in relevance to health and nursing today through a conceptual analysis process." She presents a unique perspective with clarity and wisdom. Perhaps you will find it a useful contribution to your body of knowledge and to acquire deeper understanding of such a profound topic.

Towards clarification of the meaning of spirituality
By Ruth A. Tanyi BSJ RN BSN MSN FNP Candidate
Registered Nurse, Orthopedics and Spine, Regions Hospital, Saint Paul, Minnesota, and Abbott Northwestern Hospital Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Rhetoric about spirituality and nursing has greatly increased, as sci- entific-based approaches are not fully able to address many human problems, such as persistent pain. Despite the renewed interest and growing literature on spiritu- ality, there is no consensus on a definition of this concept. There is also ambiguity on how this concept is incorporated into nursing practice, research, and education. Aim. This paper aims to contribute toward clarification of the meaning of spiri- tuality in relevance to health and nursing today through a conceptual analysis process.

Information was obtained through dictionary definitions and electronic database searches of literature on spirituality spanning the past 30 years. The criteria for selection included scholarly articles and books with a definition of spirituality, and research studies that investigated the meaning of spirituality to individuals’ health. A total of 76 articles and 19 books were retrieved for this analysis.

Spirituality is an inherent component of being human, and is subjective, intangible, and multidimensional. Spirituality and religion are often used inter- changeably, but the two concepts are different. Spirituality involves humans’ search for meaning in life, while religion involves an organized entity with rituals and practices about a higher power or God. Spirituality may be related to religion for certain individuals, but for others, such as an atheist, it may not be.

In order to provide clarity and enhance understanding of this concept, this analysis delineates antecedents, attributes, constructed case examples, empirical referents, and consequences of spirituality. A proposed definition of spirituality emerged from this process, which may be applied broadly. Implications for nursing practice, education, and research are discussed.

Keywords: spirituality, concept analysis, meaning, self-transcendence, faith, hope, clarification, connectedness, nursing

Reference: TANYI R.A. (2002) Journal of Advanced Nursing 39(5), 500–509. Towards clarification of the meaning of spirituality. Download and read the entire paper here. Learn More


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