BACKGROUND: Spiritual well-being is the center of a healthy lifestyle and enables holistic integration of one's inner resources. However, the professional education process does not adequately provide socialization of nurses in the provision of spiritual care. Few studies exist that adequately address the spiritual aspect of nursing care. PURPOSE: To identify factors that contribute to providing spiritual care for patients in intensive care units. METHODS: A descriptive research design was used for this replication study conducted on a convenience sample of 63 patients in the critical care unit of a large midwestern military hospital. A trained interviewer asked each participant three open-ended questions regarding events that had created hope or meaning, created negative feeling, and could have contributed to hope or meaning. The interview took place 1 to 2 days after discharge from the intensive care unit. Predominant patterns were determined by content analysis. RESULTS: Three themes were identified as integral to the spiritual well-being of critical care patients: care providers, family/friends, and religion/faith. Nursing interventions identified for the three themes include establishing trusting relationships, providing in-depth spiritual assessment, conveying technical competence, and acting as facilitator among family, clergy, and other providers. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that the key nursing interventions derived from this study include listening to patients' concerns and maintaining and conveying technical competence.

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