Aim: Limited data are available on how spiritual needs of patients with cancer care are addressed by Australian oncologists. The objectives of this study were to explore the current practice, preparedness and education of Australian oncologists and oncology trainees on the provision of spiritual care for their patients with cancer. Methods: Participants were recruited through oncology professional organizations and data collected through an anonymous online survey using a validated questionnaire. Results: Responses from a total of 69 medical professionals were suitable for data analysis. The majority of the respondents had encountered patients with spiritual care needs during clinical consultations. Only 45% of the respondents perceived that they were able to meet the spiritual needs of their patients. Barriers to providing spiritual care identified a lack of time, education and understanding of spirituality and spiritual care in the context of health. Only 25% stated they had received some form of education on spiritual care with 7% of these stated that the education was adequate. Participants believed that they learnt how to provide spiritual care on the job or because of their self-interest, and not as formal training. Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that Australian oncology professionals often encounter patients with spiritual care needs in their clinical practice. Despite this finding, only a small proportion of the medical professionals had education on spiritual care during their professional training. Forty-five percent of the medical practitioners believed that they were able to partly or completely meet their patients’ spiritual care needs.
- patient care