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Given the rising burden of palliative care and the limited human resources for its facilitation in China, volunteers are becoming increasingly indispensable. In particular, there is a high demand for volunteers who can serve as spiritual caregivers. However, a volunteer’s ability to provide good spiritual care in a palliative setting may be influenced by their attitude toward palliative care. To uncover the current state of spiritual caregiving in palliative settings in China and insights into best practices for its improvement, this study measured spiritual care competence and identified its influencing factors and explored its relationship with attitudes toward palliative care among volunteers. Notably, this study is the first to consider spiritual care competence alongside attitudes toward palliative care.
A descriptive cross-sectional study using online survey methods was conducted with 385 volunteers in Shanghai, China. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire.
Volunteers demonstrated relatively low levels of spiritual care competence (58.50 ± 10.92). Statistically significant correlations were found between spiritual care competence and the following variables: age, educational background, marital status, religious beliefs, occupational status, and relevant training and practical experience. Attitude toward palliative care significantly correlated with spiritual care competence (r = 0.49, p < 0.001).
Significance of results
To continually improve volunteers’ spiritual care competence, diversified education and training programs about spiritual care should be designed for different kinds of volunteers; moreover, because attitude toward palliative care significantly impacted spiritual care competence, such programs should encourage positive attitudes toward palliative care.
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