Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

First-Year Student Pharmacists' Spirituality and Perceptions regarding the Role of Spirituality in Pharmacy Education

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

First-Year Student Pharmacists' Spirituality and Perceptions regarding the Role of Spirituality in Pharmacy Education

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

There has been a resurgence of interest in the role of spirituality in health care. (1-4) The medical community is recognizing the significant implications for patients when spirituality and health care intersect such as it relates to influence on health care decisionmaking, religious beliefs that conflict with medical care, spiritual struggles that impair health outcomes, and disease detection. (5) The Association of American Medical Colleges affirms that spirituality is a recognized factor that contributes to health in many patients, and that it can influence the way patients and health care providers interact with each other. Elective courses on spirituality and health care in schools of medicine and nursing have included content related to teaching students to take spiritual assessments, evaluation of published literature on spirituality in health care, reviewing cases that include patients' spiritual histories, learning to communicate with patients facing chronic illness or end-of-life decisions, and teaching students to reflect on their own belief systems and the influence these may have on provision of health care. (7-9)

Pedagogical literature examining the role of spirituality as a component of pharmacy education is quite limited. Cooper and colleagues in 2003 conducted a survey-based study of 94 accredited colleges of pharmacy in the United States and Canada that was designed to examine the extent of spiritual care incorporated in the curriculums. (10) Findings revealed that spiritual aspects of patient care were addressed in only 21 % of pharmacy curriculums, with only 10% of these being in a required course. Faculty and student leaders expressed the belief that spiritual aspects of patient care fell into the scope of pharmacy practice. Furthermore, 80% of student leaders felt that incorporation of the topic in some form would be beneficial for students' professional development.

Dugan and colleagues in 2011 described the design and implementation of an elective course for pharmacy students at a private, Christian university that examined the relationship between spirituality and health care. (11) The course consisted of didactic lectures and facilitated discussions on various general principles related to spirituality in health care, assigned tertiary and primary literature readings, obtaining spiritual histories, presenting primary literature study evaluations, and reflective journal writing. Campbell and Briton described an elective course offeredjointly to 13 student pharmacists and seven medical students at a large public university. (12) A survey at the end of this course indicated that the majority of students felt comfortable addressing issues of spirituality in the context of providing patient care. To date, no studies have been published that specifically evaluate measures of spirituality among student pharmacists or determine student pharmacists' perceptions regarding the role of spirituality in pharmacy education and practice.

The objective of this study was to measure spirituality among entering student pharmacists utilizing validated survey instruments and to determine student pharmacists' perceptions regarding the role of spirituality in the doctor of pharmacy curriculum and eventual professional practice. A secondary objective was to examine the relationship between students' perceptions regarding the role of spirituality in pharmacy education and objective measures of spirituality.

METHODS

This was a four-year, cross-sectional, descriptive study with an electronic survey design. The authors received permission to include the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES) and the Duke Religion Index (DUREL) in the survey. These two instruments are validated and have been used extensively in settings outside of pharmacy education. The DSES originally was designed for use in health care and has been incorporated into studies published by various academic disciplines in health and social sciences. …

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