Spiritual aspects of the family caregivers’ experiences when caring for a community-dwelling adult with severe mental illness: a systematic review of qualitative evidence

Tiago Casaleiro*, Sílvia Caldeira, Daniela Cardoso, João Apóstolo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

What is known on the subject?: Being a caregiver of a relative with severe mental illness often impacts the quality of life, physical and mental health. The use of coping strategies related to spirituality can enhance physical and mental well-being. What the paper adds to existing knowledge?: This review found 26 primary studies that refer to spiritual aspects of the experience of caring for a relative with mental health problems. Caregivers express spiritual needs, such as hope and finding meaning in life, and spiritual or religious practices that help to cope with stressful situations. What are the implications for practice?: Spiritual needs and spiritual coping strategies of family caregivers of a relative with severe mental illness should be included in mental health nursing care. A spiritually sensitive approach should be used when promoting coping strategies of the family caregivers of a relative with severe mental illness. Abstract: Introduction Deinstitutionalization of individuals with severe mental illness transferred the responsibility of care to the relatives who need to adapt their personal life. Caregivers often develop coping strategies which involve the relationship with oneself, others, or the transcendent/God or nature and may include religious/spiritual practices. Question/Aim This review aims to identify the spiritual aspects of the family caregivers’ experiences when caring for a community-dwelling adult with severe mental illness. Method The review was conducted in accordance with the Joanna Briggs Institute methodology for systematic reviews of qualitative evidence. Search was conducted in March 2019, updated in August 2020, limited to English, Spanish and Portuguese. Results A total of 26 studies were included. Two synthesized findings emerged: spiritual coping strategies are used by family caregivers; spiritual needs are expressed by family caregivers. The findings are based on the experiences of 467 caregivers, from 14 countries. Discussion In stressful times, family caregivers question the meaning in life and acknowledge hopelessness. To cope, caregivers mention a turn to the sacred and the use of spiritual/religious practices. Implications for practice Spirituality should be considered according to caregivers’ individual beliefs and needs, as may represent important resources for the sense of meaning and overall well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-273
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
Volume29
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Keywords

  • Carers/families
  • Community care
  • Patient experience
  • Spirituality
  • Systematic literature reviews

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