Faith, Health, Medical care -- Religious aspects, Medical personnel, Medicine -- Religious aspects, Prayer, Rural elderly -- Religious life -- Florida, Spirituality, Well being


A qualitative design was used to explore the use of spirituality and prayer by older adults who have chronic illness and reside in a rural community. Thirteen individuals responded to a flyer soliciting participation in a study of the use of spirituality as part of health care. Participants were at least 60 years of age, had at least one chronic illness and resided in North Central Florida. Twelve participants then responded to six open-ended questions based on an adaption of an instrument used by Dr. Shevon Harvey in her doctoral dissertation. The data was analyzed to identify themes and answer four research questions. The four research questions were 1) how do older adults living with chronic illness describe spirituality? 2) how do older adults use spirituality while living with chronic illness? 3) how can health care providers assist older individuals with chronic illness to meet their spiritual needs?, and 4) do patients feel that their spiritual needs are being addressed during their outpatient health care? The interview responses demonstrated that several different practices, including prayer and scripture readings as well as adherence to medication, diet, and exercise recommendations were used as coping mechanisms by study participants. The majority of participants want their health care providers to address spirituality and/or refer them to spiritual advisors for counseling. The study showed that some participants stated that their spiritual needs were met, but there were some who did not want spirituality addressed in the outpatient setting. Four themes were identified, which suggest that 1) spiritual practices were frequently used coping measure for these individual with chronic illness, 2) health care providers are supportive iv of their patients’ spirituality, 3) participants with chronic illness consider adherence to medication, diet, and exercise a coping measure, and 4) participants with chronic illness want their health care providers to recognize their spiritual needs. The findings indicated that individuals who self identify as individuals from whom spiritual life is important and who have chronic illnesses and have spiritual needs that can be addressed in the outpatient setting. The findings also demonstrated use of non spiritual coping measures and the importance of health care provider’s acceptance of spirituality in this specific population. Recommendations for further research are made.


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Graduation Date





Wink, Diane


Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.)


College of Nursing

Degree Program

Nursing Practice








Release Date

May 2011

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Nursing, Nursing -- Dissertations, Academic

Included in

Nursing Commons