A review of spiritual and religious measures in nursing research journals: 1995-1999

Shelley Dean Kilpatrick, Andrew J. Weaver, Michael E. Mccullough, Christina Puchalski, David B. Larson, Judith C. Hays, Carol J. Farran, Kevin J. Flannelly

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: A series of systematic reviews has revealed relatively high levels of interest in religion and spirituality in different nursing specialties, but not in general nursing research journals. Purpose: To identify the extent to which spirituality and religiousness were measured in all quantitative and qualitative research articles published in Research in Nursing and Health, Nursing Research, Advances in Nursing Science (ANS), and Image: The Journal of Nursing Scholarship from 1995 to 1999. Methods: A full-text search was conducted of ANS and Image using the Ovid search system. Nursing Research and Research in Nursing and Health were hand searched for spiritual/religious measures. Characteristics of selected studies, the measures taken, and their uses were coded for data analysis. Results: A total of 564 research studies were identified, of which 67 (11.9%) included at least one measure of spirituality or religiousness. A significant difference was found between the percentage of qualitative and quantitative studies that contained measures of these concepts. Of the 119 qualitative studies, 23 (19.3%) contained a measure of religion or spirituality, compared to 44 of the 445 (9.9%) quantitative studies. Nominal indicators of religious affiliation were the most commonly used measures in the quantitative studies and measures of religion and spirituality were rarely used in the analyses. Although only a few quantitative or qualitative studies intended to focus on religion or spirituality, these themes often emerged spontaneously in the qualitative research. Conclusions: Research in Nursing and Health, Advances in Nursing Science, Nursing Research, and Image: The Journal of Nursing Scholarship all published research measuring spirituality and religiousness during the time-period studied. The rate at which spirituality and religion appeared in these nursing research articles is substantially higher than that found in most fields outside of nursing. Even more frequent inclusion of spiritual and religious variables and richer measures of spirituality and religiousness would help to increase the available scientific information on the role of spirituality and religion in nursing care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-66
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Apr 2005


  • Nursing
  • Religion
  • Review
  • Spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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