Episode 240: Spirituality in Cancer Care

“When we are able to connect with the things that give us meaning in our life, it makes us stronger, it makes us happier, it makes our life more fulfilled,” Caroline Peacock, ACPE certified educator, LCSW, Episcopal priest, and director of spiritual health and community care at the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University in Atlanta, GA, said in a conversation with Jaime Weimer, MSN, RN, AGCNS-BC, AOCNS®, oncology clinical specialist at ONS. Peacock discussed how oncology nurses can support patients’ spirituality during cancer care. You can earn free NCPD contact hours after listening to this episode and completing the evaluation linked below.

Music Credit: “Fireflies and Stardust” by Kevin MacLeod

Licensed under Creative Commons by Attribution 3.0

Earn 0.75 contact hours of nursing continuing professional development (NCPD) by listening to the full recording and completing an evaluation at myoutcomes.ons.org by December 30, 2024. The planners and faculty for this episode have no relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies to disclose. ONS is accredited as a provider of NCPD by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.

Learning outcome: The learner will report an increase in knowledge related to spirituality in cancer care.

Episode Notes

To discuss the information in this episode with other oncology nurses, visit the ONS Communities.

To provide feedback or otherwise reach ONS about the podcast, email pubONSVoice@ons.org.

Highlights From Today’s Episode

“When my team and I are approaching patients, what we want to know is what matters to that particular patient, what gives them a sense of meaning, what gives them a sense of purpose in their life—and we want to approach them without judgement.” Timestamp (TS) 04:22

“If you have a patient who is experiencing distress, I often recommend that you don’t say, ‘Would you like to see the chaplain?’ or, ‘Would you like to see spiritual health?’ I often recommend that you make the referral. We know how to interface with a patient. The reason I recommend that is because a lot of times, there’s a stigma associated with receiving help when someone is in distress.” TS 13:51

“When a person has a new diagnosis, that can be so overwhelming. Often, once they have a plan in place with their provider, their distress goes way down. I do think that after that first diagnosis, that’s often a point where spiritual health might want to interface, and when there’s changes in goals of care.” TS 16:23

“When we are able to connect with the things that give us meaning in our life, it makes us stronger, it makes us happier, it makes our life more fulfilled.” TS 23:37

“Let’s say a patient is just talking your ear off. . . and the nurse just doesn’t have the time or capacity to tend to the patient. It might be helpful to call in spiritual health to provide a little bit of companionship to that patient. That can actually help the nurse to be more effective in their work so they’re able to the medical needs that they’re needing to get to while we can absorb some of the spiritual and emotional content that the patient might be carrying.” TS 28:06

“A very simple question is, ‘What matters to you?’ It’s so basic, but I think that can help a nurse get to, when they’re having a conversation with a patient, what gives the patient a sense of meaning in their life. . . . And I think one thing that’s really important is to know that spirituality and religion are very complex. There’s a lot of diversity within any given group. It’s important for nurses to know that when they’re interfacing with a patient of a particular religious background not to assume that they maybe have all the same beliefs as other people within that particular religious group.” TS 30:07

“We consider staff to be part of our groups of people that we’re responding to, and my team and I care deeply about our nurses that work in healthcare settings. . . . Nurses have complex lives, and they’re dealing with all kinds of things within their own lives—challenges with family, appointment stressors, working very hard hours, having really hard patients, having heavy caseloads—all of those things can be extraordinarily overwhelming for healthcare staff and for nurses in particular.” TS 26:31

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