Background: The spiritual aspect of care is an often neglected resource in pain therapies. The aim of this study is to identify commonalities and differences in chronic pain patients’ (CPP) and health care professionals’ (HCP) perceptions on the integration of spiritual care into multimodal pain therapy.
Methods: We conducted a qualitative exploratory study with 42 CPPs and 34 HCPs who were interviewed in 12 separate groups in five study centres specialising in chronic pain within German-speaking Switzerland. The interviews were transcribed and subjected to a qualitative content analysis. Findings were generated by juxtaposing and analysing the statements of (a) HCP about HCP, (b) HCP about CPP, (c) CPP about HCP, and (d) CPP about CPP.
Results: Views on spiritual concerns and needs in chronic pain care can be described in three distinct dimensions: function (evaluating the need / request to discuss spiritual issues), structure (evaluating when / how to discuss spiritual issues) and context (evaluating why / under which circumstances to discuss spiritual issues). CPPs stress the importance of HCPs recognizing their overall human integrity, including the spiritual dimension, and would like to grant spiritual concerns greater significance in their therapy. HCPs express difficulties in addressing and discussing spiritual concerns and needs with chronic pain patients. Both parties want clarification of the context in which the spiritual dimension could be integrated into treatment. They see a need for greater awareness and training of HCPs in how the spiritual dimension in therapeutic interactions might be addressed.
Conclusions: Although there are similarities in the perspectives of HCPs and CPPs regarding spiritual concerns and needs in chronic pain care, there are relevant differences between the two groups. This might contribute to the neglect of the spiritual dimension in the treatment of chronic pain.