Spiritual distress

Disruption in the life principle that pervades a person's entire being and that integrates and transcends one's biological and psychosocial nature

Defining Characteristics:
  • Expresses concern with meaning of life/death and/or belief systems; 
  • questions moral/ethical implications of therapeutic regimen; 
  • describes nightmares/sleep disturbances; 
  • verbalizes inner conflict about beliefs; 
  • verbalizes concern about relationship with deity; 
  • unable to participate in usual religious practices; 
  • seeks spiritual assistance; 
  • questions the meaning of suffering; 
  • questions meaning of own existence; 
  • displacement of anger toward religious representatives; 
  • anger toward God; 
  • alteration in behavior/mood evidenced by anger, crying, withdrawal, preoccupation, anxiety, hostility, apathy; gallows humor (inappropriate humor in a grave situation)

Related Factors:
  • Challenged belief and value system (e.g., due to moral/ethical implications of therapy, intense suffering); 
  • separation from religious or cultural ties

NOC Outcomes (Nursing Outcomes Classification)

Suggested NOC Labels
  • Dignified Dying
  • Hope
  • Spiritual Well-Being
Client Outcomes
  • States conflicts or disturbances related to practice of belief system
  • Discusses beliefs about spiritual issues
  • States feelings of trust in self, God, or other belief systems
  • Continues spiritual practices not detrimental to health
  • Discusses feelings about death
  • Displays a mood appropriate for the situation

NIC Interventions (Nursing Interventions Classification)

Suggested NIC Labels


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