Spiritual Suffering

Spiritual Suffering


Introduction to Nursing Diagnosis: Spiritual Suffering

nursing diagnosis is a comprehensive taxonomy of recognized nursing diagnoses, which are defined clinical judgments about individual, family, or community responses to actual or potential health problems/life processes. NANDA-I nursing diagnoses categories include impaired comfort, ineffective coping, insomnia, risk for infection, and risk for spiritual distress. The spiritual suffering nursing diagnosis from the list of NANDA-I diagnoses was categorized under Risk for Reduced Resilience.

Nursing Diagnosis Definition

The NANDA-I definition for Spiritual Suffering nursing diagnosis reads:

  • Risk for Reduced Resilience – At risk for diminished capacity to adapt and cope with aversive events.

Defining Characteristics (Subjective)

  • Spiritual discomfort
  • Struggle to find meaning in life
  • Questions own worth and values
  • Anger at God/higher power
  • Difficulty to find serenity and peace
  • Lack of joy
  • Feelings of sadness
  • Discord between beliefs and practices
  • Loss of hope
  • Fear of death/dying

Defining Characteristics (Objective)

  • Loss of interest in activities once found meaningful
  • Limited interaction with others
  • Unresponsive to comfort and joy
  • Crying spells
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Verbal expression of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Lack of optimism
  • Social isolation
  • Engagement in behaviors once held sacred
  • Altered level of consciousness (for example, preoccupation)

Related Factors

  • Inability to adapt to significant life changes: Changes in personal life, death/loss of loved one, relocation, loss of employment, physical illness/infirmity, financial stress.
  • Interpersonal/cultural conflict: Lack of support/accommodation from interpersonal relationships, difficulty understanding conflicting religious/cultural beliefs, loss of sense of purpose.
  • Lack of spiritual coping mechanisms: Few individuals/institutions to rely on, inadequate knowledge of spiritual coping strategies.

Risk Populations

  • People in hospital/health care settings
  • People with chronic illnesses
  • Elders
  • Terminally ill
  • People living with mental illness
  • People who identify as LGBTQ+
  • People facing end-of-life decisions

Associated Problems

Individuals experiencing spiritual suffering may exhibit the following associated problems, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Social isolation
  • Anger
  • Lack of motivation/purpose in life
  • Self-destructive behaviors
  • Poor job performance

Suggestions of Use

Spiritual suffering nursing diagnosis can be suggested for use in any setting (clinic, hospital, hospice, etc.) whenever a client’s spiritual needs are not being met adequately. Nurses should assess for signs and symptoms of spiritual distress by asking questions about the client’s religious/spiritual beliefs and cultural values and/or refer them to appropriate services/resources.

Suggested Alternative Nursing Diagnosis

Other related diagnoses may include:

  • Ineffective Coping
  • Ineffective Spirituality
  • Readiness for Enhanced Spiritual Wellbeing

Usage Tips

  • Assess for spiritual suffering in every client.
  • Encourage clients to engage in spiritual activities and offer referrals to appropriate resources.
  • Regularly monitor the client’s spiritual health.
  • Assess spiritual needs of the family and refer to relevant support services.

NOC Results

The nursing interventions may lead to the following positive outcomes, as measured by the NOC measure:

  • Spiritual Well-Being: An individual’s satisfaction derived from awareness of participating in meaningful activities, communities, and relationships with self, others, and environment.
  • Social Support Network: Availability of people with whom to share feelings, hopes, and concerns.
  • Coping Self-Efficacy: Beliefs about one’s ability to successfully handle an adverse situation.
  • Hope: Perception that the desired outcome will be achieved.
  • Resilience: Ability to adjust to change and/or cope with adversity.

NIC Interventions

In line with the NANDA-I nursing diagnoses, a variety of nursing interventions may be implemented, including but not limited to the following:

  • Spiritual Assessment: Evaluate the client’s spiritual history, interests, and needs; assess spiritual distress and refer to appropriate services.
  • Counseling on Spiritual Issues: Provide spiritual counseling and support to clients experiencing spiritual distress.
  • Referral: Refer to appropriate resources and support services that can help meet the individual’s spiritual/emotional needs.
  • Foster Spiritual Practices: Assist the client in establishing/maintaining spiritual practices such as meditation, prayer, and/or journaling.
  • Assist in Development of Meaningful Goals: Encourages clients to set meaningful goals as part of developing a sense of purpose in life.
  • Provide Emotional Support: Provide emotional support to clients and families experiencing spiritual distress.


In conclusion, the spiritual suffering nursing diagnosis from the list of NANDA-I nursing diagnoses can provide an effective tool for nursing professionals to recognize and assess for spiritual distress. Through early recognition and assessment, nurses can intervene effectively and provide appropriate services/resources that can help individuals experiencing spiritual distress.


Q: How do I assess for spiritual suffering?

A: Assessing for spiritual suffering should include conducting a spiritual assessment to evaluate the individual’s spiritual history, interests, and needs. Additionally, intervening through spiritual counseling, emotional support, and referral to appropriate resources can also help meet the individual’s spiritual/emotional needs.

Isabella White

Hello to all nursing enthusiasts! I'm Isabella White and I'm thrilled to welcome you to this space dedicated to the exciting world of nursing. Let me share a little about myself and what we can expect together on this journey. About Me: Nursing is more than just a profession to me, it's a calling. When I'm not caring for my patients or learning more about health and wellness, you'll find me enjoying the great outdoors, exploring new trails in nature, or savoring a good cup of coffee with close friends. I believe in the balance between caring for others and self-care, and I'm here to share that philosophy with you. My Commitment to You: In this space, I commit to being your reliable guide in the world of nursing. Together, we'll explore health topics, share practical tips, and support each other on our journeys to wellness. But we'll also celebrate life beyond the hospital walls, finding moments of joy in the everyday and seeking adventures that inspire us to live fully. In summary, this is a place where nursing meets life, where we'll find support, inspiration, and hopefully a little fun along the way. Thank you for joining me on this exciting journey. Welcome to a world of care, knowledge, and connection! Sincerely, Isabella White

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