Spiritual needs of Brazilian children and adolescents with chronic illnesses: a thematic analysis

Willyane de Andrade Alvarenga, Júlia Rezende Machado, Ana Carolina Andrade Biaggi Leite, Sílvia Caldeira, Margarida Vieira, Silvana Santiago da Rocha, Lucila Castanheira Nascimento

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: To identify the spiritual needs of children and adolescents with chronic illnesses and how these needs are met by health professionals during hospitalization. Design and methods: A qualitative descriptive study was developed with 35 children and adolescents, between 7 and 18 years old, diagnosed with cancer, cystic fibrosis, and type 1 diabetes. Interviews with photo-elicitation were conducted during the hospitalization at a Brazilian public pediatric hospital. Findings were treated using thematic analysis, and the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research (COREQ) was followed for quality reporting. This research was approved by a research committee. Results: Two themes emerged. The first, entitled ‘Spiritual needs’, encompasses five types of needs: (1) need to integrate meaning and purpose in life; (2) need to sustain hope; (3) need for expression of faith and to follow religious practices; (4) need for comfort at the end of life; and (5) need to connect with family and friends. The second theme was the ‘Definition of spiritual care’. Conclusions: Children and adolescents with chronic illnesses have spiritual needs while in hospital. Meeting these needs is essential for finding meaning, purpose and hope in the experience of living with chronic illnesses and at the end of life, based on their faith, beliefs and interpersonal relationships. But, these needs have not been fully addressed during hospitalization. Practice implications: These results emphasize the need to implement spiritual care when caring for hospitalized pediatric patients, which includes addressing spiritual needs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e39-e45
JournalJournal of Pediatric Nursing
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2021


  • Children
  • Chronic disease
  • Pediatric nursing
  • Photograph
  • Qualitative research
  • Spirituality


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