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J Adv Nurs. 2016 Sep;72(9):2185-95. doi: 10.1111/jan.12990. Epub 2016 May 1.

Prayer and the Registered Nurse (PRN): nurses' reports of ease and dis-ease with patient-initiated prayer request.

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College of Nursing, South Dakota State University, Brookings, South Dakota, USA.
College of Nursing, South Dakota State University, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, USA.
College of Nursing, South Dakota State University, Rapid City, South Dakota, USA.



To explore nurse comfort with patient-initiated prayer request scenarios.


Spiritual care is fundamental to patient care evidenced by Joint Commission requirement of a spiritual assessment on a patient's hospital admission. Prayer is an assessment component. Patients may seek solace and support by requesting prayer from the bedside nurse, the nurse may lack confidence in responding. Absent in the literature are reports specific to nurses' comfort when patients initiate prayer requests.


Cross-sectional mixed methods study.


Data were collected in early 2014 from 134 nurses in the USA via an online survey using QuestionPro. The qualitative results reported here were collated by scenario and analysed using thematic analysis.


The scenario responses revealed patterns of ease and dis-ease in response to patient requests for prayer. The pattern of ease of prayer with patients revealed three themes: open to voice of calm or silence; physical or spiritual; can I call the chaplain. For these nurses, prayer is a natural component of nursing care, as the majority of responses to all scenarios demonstrated an overwhelming ease in response and capacity to pray with patients on request. The pattern of dis-ease of prayer with patients distinguished two themes: cautious hesitancy and whose God. These nurses experienced dis-ease with the patient's request no matter the situation.


Educators and administrators must nurture opportunities for students and nurses to learn about and engage in the reflective preparation needed to respond to patient prayer requests.


nurses; nursing administration; nursing education; patient care; prayer; religion; spiritual assessment; spirituality; thematic analysis

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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