Abstract

Objective. This study examined (a) occupational therapists’ attitudes about spirituality in practice on the basis of whether they identified themselves as religious, (b) whether their personal definition of spirituality related to their religiousness, (c) whether their definition related to their attitude about spirituality in practice, and (d) the methods they used to address the spiritual needs of clients.

Method. An attitude questionnaire was developed and mailed to 396 American occupational therapists. Fifty-two percent (n = 206) of the mailed questionnaires were analyzed.

Results. Overall, participants indicated a slightly positive attitude toward spirituality in occupational therapy practice. Participants who considered themselves to be religious indicated a more positive view toward spirituality in practice than those who did not consider themselves to be religious. Religiousness accounted for only 28% of the variance in choice of spirituality definition, indicating that additional variables account for what determines therapists’ definitions of spirituality. No relationship was found between personal definition choice and attitude regarding spirituality in practice. The three methods most commonly used to address the spiritual needs of their clients were to (a) pray for a client, (b) use spiritual language or concepts with a client, and (c) discuss with clients ways that their religious beliefs were helpful.

Conclusion. Therapists’ conceptualization of spirituality and attitudes about spirituality in occupational therapy practice are quite diverse.

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