A meaning-centered coaching intervention can improve the spiritual care competences of the oncology nursing team, and ultimately, improve quality of life for patients. These study results were published in Cancer Nursing.

A group of researchers in the Netherlands conducted a mixed methods study with a participatory action research approach to learn if coaching on the job could improve oncology nurses’ spiritual care competences and job satisfaction.  

The intervention consisted of a weekly coaching session during daily half-hour nursing staff team meetings between June and November 2021, for a total of 18 sessions. Thirty nurses participated.

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“Coaching focused on uncovering barriers and facilitators in providing spiritual care for both patients and themselves,” and steered the nurses toward exploring what is meaningful to patients and not making assumptions, as well as being cognizant of their own experiences while caring for patients, explained the researchers.

Data on envisioned and observed effects of the intervention were collected through semi-structured interviews with the care manager and nurse leader. Participating nurses were asked to complete a short online survey 4 weeks before the intervention and again 4 weeks after to measure its effectiveness. The survey was composed of the Spiritual Care Competence Scale (SCCS) and the job satisfaction subscale of the Spiritual Well-Being Scale. The researchers also conducted focus groups and team meetings with the participating nurses.

Survey response rate was 57%. A significant increase in self-assessed competence was reported on the SCCS (0.29, P <.001), especially on the communication (0.32, P <.01), professionalization (0.46, P <.01), and personal support (0.29, P <.05) subscales. However, no significant effects were noted in job satisfaction (−0.01, P =.91).

Some participants believed that nurses’ attitudes affected the ability to effectively identify and explore what is meaningful to patients. However, busyness and a practical incline could sometimes be barriers, the research revealed. Additionally, some participants suggested that hierarchical relationships with physicians may also be a barrier.

“Nurses described an increased awareness of their own experience of taking care of patients and a developed ability to distinguish their own values from those of the patient,” the researchers wrote.

“The intervention led to normalizing discussions between nurses on what matters most for patients as well as a conscious focus on the actual care provided to patients,” they added.


Modderkolk L, van Meurs J, de Klein V, Engels Y, Wichmann AB. Effectiveness of meaning-centered coaching on the job of oncology nurses on spiritual care competences: a participatory action research approach. Cancer Nurs. Published online July 4, 2023.  doi:10.1097/NCC.0000000000001255