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A grounded theory study of the experience of spirituality among persons living with schizophrenia Tarko, Michel Andre


Spirituality in the discipline of nursing has gained popularity over the past two decades. National and provincial nursing associations and colleges expect nurses to be educated in providing spiritual health assessments and interventions in order to provide holistic nursing care. There is a paucity of research in the nursing literature on the meaning of spirituality from the perspectives of individuals who experience chronic mental illness, specifically schizophrenia. Spirituality remains an elusive construct, challenging psychiatric nurse educators, researchers and practitioners in the development of nursing curricula to guide psychiatric nursing practice. The focus of this research study was to develop a substantive theory about the experience of spirituality among individuals living with schizophrenia using grounded theory methodology in the tradition of Glaser and Strauss (1967). Forty semi-structured interviews and four focus groups were conducted with 20 participants who self-reported to be diagnosed with schizophrenia. Findings: The substantive theory "spirituality as connection" indicates that spirituality for persons living with schizophrenia involves a dialectical process in which one strives to be connected to one's spiritual self (body-mind-spirit), significant others (family, friends, G o d / Higher Power, health care professionals), community (others living with a mental illness, others who are well, a faith community, the community in which participants lived), and nature, while at the same time experiencing situations and incidents that promote disconnection from these sub-themes. Strategies used by participants to achieve connection included: taking prescribed atypical anti-psychotic medications, maintaining their health and a healthy lifestyle, use of prayer / meditation, caring for self and others, and engaging in creative activities that added meaning to their life experiences. Among the 17 factors contributing to connection, exemplars are: reconnecting with one's spirit through prayer and meditation, attending drop-in centres for persons living with a mental illness, and walking / hiking in nature. Outcomes include feeling peaceful, love, contentment, being accepted and nurtured by others. Among the 14 factors contributing to disconnection, exemplars are: the effect of the illness on relationships with other people, the stigma of being in a psychiatric ward, being unemployed, and taking typical antipsychotic medications. Outcomes include feeling powerlessness, isolation, rejection and alienation.

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