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Spiritual care perceptions and empathy of Chinese nursing students: The mediating roles of spiritual well-being

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 August 2022

Zhangyi Wang
Graduate School, Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tianjin, China
Yuan Liang
Graduate School, Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tianjin, China
Haomei Zhao
Graduate School, Hebei University of Chinese Medicine, Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China
Yue Zhu
Graduate School, Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tianjin, China
Mengru Liu
School of Nursing, Huzhou University, Huzhou, Zhejiang, China
Yajun Zhang
Graduate School, Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tianjin, China
Luwei Xiao
School of Nursing, University of South China, Hengyang, Hunan, China
Jingjing Piao
Graduate School, Hebei University of Chinese Medicine, Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China
Xiqun Zhao
College of Culture and Health Communication, Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tianjin, China
Zhijian Liu
Public Service College of Tianjin Technician Institute of Mechanical & Electrical Technology, Tianjin, China
Li Liu
Blood Purification Center, The Second Affiliated Hospital of University of South China, Hengyang, Hunan, China
Xiaoli Pang
Graduate School, Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tianjin, China
Lina Peng*
Vascular Surgery, Chenzhou No.1 People's Hospital, Chenzhou, Hunan, China
Author for correspondence: Lina Peng, Vascular Surgery, Chenzhou No.1 People's Hospital, Chenzhou, Hunan, China. E-mail:



To investigate spiritual care perceptions, spiritual well-being, and empathy, examine the correlations among spiritual care perceptions, spiritual well-being, and empathy, and explore the mediating role of spiritual well-being between other two variables of Chinese nursing students.


A cross-sectional design was implemented, and the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) Checklist was used to ensure quality reporting of the study. A cluster sample of 2,718 nursing students was selected from 7 universities and colleges in China. The demographic characteristics questionnaire, the Chinese Version of the Spiritual Care-Giving Scale (C-SCGS), the Spiritual Health Scale Short Form (SHS-SF), and the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy-Nursing Student (JSPE-NS) were used. Descriptive statistics, correlation, and process plug-in mediation effect analyses were used to analyze the data.


The total score of spiritual care perceptions, spiritual well-being, and empathy were 173.83 ± 25.62, 98.74 ± 12.87, and 105.04 ± 21.34, respectively. Spiritual care perceptions were positively correlated with spiritual well-being (r = 0.617, p < 0.01) and empathy (r = 0.528, p < 0.01). And spiritual well-being played a partial mediating role between the other two variables (accounting for 28.1%).

Significance of results

Spiritual care perceptions, spiritual well-being, and empathy were quite moderate, which need in improving. It is suggested that nursing educators pay attention to the spiritual care education of nursing students, perfect the spiritual care education system, and take targeted measures according to nursing students’ individual personality traits and differences, improve their spiritual well-being and empathy in multiple ways, so as to improve their spiritual care perceptions and competence.

Original Article
Copyright © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

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Zhangyi Wang, Yuan Liang, and Haomei Zhao are joint first authors, and they have contributed equally to this study.



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