What GPs mean by 'spirituality' and how they apply this concept with patients: a qualitative study

Alistair Appleby, John Swinton, Philip Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Background Little is known about how the concept of spirituality is understood and applied by GPs. Aim To provide a detailed description of how GPs understand the concept of spirituality and apply this with patients. Design & setting Nineteen Scottish GPs were interviewed about their perceptions of the concept of spirituality and how they apply this in practice. Method An approach informed by grounded theory was used to identify and summarise common themes. Results Seven concepts concerning spirituality emerged, some of which are previously unrecognised. Four attitudes to spiritual care and four patterns of spiritual care were identified. Conclusion GPs have varying views on what spirituality is, and these relate partly to individual beliefs and experiences. These create considerable variation in the delivery of spiritual care.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberbjgpopen18X101469
JournalBJGP Open
Issue number2
Early online date17 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

This study was funded through a small bursary from the Centre for Rural Health.


  • primary care
  • general practice
  • spirituality


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