Case Analysis Patients Spiritual Needs Paper


All human beings have a spiritual nature that is formed and developed based on their worldview. An individual’s spirituality is based on their faith (or lack thereof), stories of the origin of life, and their understanding of theology. Arguably, character and belief in spirituality is what shapes that which people value most in life. In the case of Mike and Joan, their faith in Christianity prompted them to cancel scheduled dialysis for their son James because they believed if they prayed hard, God would intervene and heal James. While patient autonomy is critical in making treatment decisions, in the case of children, the need to do what is in a child’s best interest overrides autonomy.

Question 1: Should the physician allow Mike to continue making decisions

Parents have the right to decide the kind of medical care their children should get. However, the act of refusing care for a child borders on neglect and child abuse. When it comes to a child’s medical health, irrespective of one’s faith, religion, and beliefs, the child’s medical attention supersedes any of these considerations (Anandarajah, 2005). Allowing Mike to continue making decisions for James based on his Christianity-informed worldview seems to be hurting the latter rather than helping him. It must be noted that Mike has the best intention for his son and hopes that his faith would lead to James’s healing.

Mike’s first decision to refuse dialysis for James resulted in permanent damage to the minor’s kidneys. The minor is now permanently on a dialysis machine and requires a kidney transplant for a year. The principle of fairness and justice advocates for nurses to air concerns on the patient’s treatment, the same should be expected of parents. Fairness and justice influence the treatment plans chosen for patients. Similarly, Mike and Joan should adopt the principle of fairness and justice in choosing an effective treatment plan for their son. In light of this analogy, it is critical that while Mike and Joan continue to pray for the healing of their son, they must allow the minor to get proper medical treatment to save his life. The fact that parents make all critical decisions for their children does not give them the right to infringe on their basic rights (Wiegand, 2015). Healthcare is a basic human right and must be accorded to all who need it. The refusal by Mike and his wife to take James for medical treatment is an infringement of this right. Apart from the constitutional right to healthcare, the principles of nonmaleficence and beneficence require people to do right and good to patients at all times, this includes making the right choices for intervention.

Q.2: How Should A Christian Think About Medical Intervention?

Many Christians around the world perceive sickness as spiritual warfare that require intervention through prayer. In the early church, the sick were brought to the church elders or priests to pray for them for healing. In contemporary Christianity, God is presented as the ultimate healer of all sicknesses/ailments (Doukas & Hanson, 2009). Thus, contemporary Christians believe that having faith in God and praying for the sick leads to healing. Even today, there are Christian denominations that forbid their followers from seeking medical help from healthcare facilities. However, the Bible does not expressly forbid Christians from seeking medical attention. In fact, the Bible quotes in Mark 2:17 that “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (New International Version). This statement by Jesus shows that not only did he recognize the importance of physicians but also validated their role in healing people using medical methods. Based on this narrative, it is incumbent upon Mike and Joan to practice nonmaleficence and beneficence by believing that God can heal their son through medical treatment.

Going by the principles of nonmaleficence and beneficence, Mike and Joan must do what is right for their son. These two principles state that nurses and other healthcare providers must, as a matter of ethics, execute their responsibilities in ways that do not cause any harm to patients. Likewise, these principles are not the preserve of nurses alone, all caregivers, parents, and all people who care for a sick person must exhibit the same principles by doing good and right by patients at all times (Reichman, 2005). If Mike and his wife observed these principles, the conflict between their faith and James’s medical attention would not arise. The right thing for James is to let him continue his dialysis treatment while Mike and Joan can continue praying for him to get well. There need not be a clash between religion and medicine; instead, the two critical components should complement each other. The Mikes can utilize their faith in God to help themselves and their son to cope with their stress and pain. In any case, numerous researches on spirituality and well-being show a strong connection between spirituality and wellbeing, which means that prayer contributes to well-being.

Q.3: How would a spiritual needs assessment help the physician assist Mike to determine appropriate interventions for James and for his family.

An assessment of the spiritual needs of Mike and his family by the physician is critical because it determines the final patient outcome. To begin with, the physician should assess what spirituality means for Mike and his family as far as the health of their son is concerned. The assessment is critical because it gives the doctor a chance to create an effective treatment plan that includes modern medicine and faith-based intervention (Timmins, & Caldeira, 2017). For example, James would continue with the dialysis program while the physician encourages prayer for the sick child. This two-pronged approach not only takes care of the spiritual needs of Mike’s family but also ensures that James is accorded the best medical treatment to save his life. Spirituality would give hope and strength to Mike’s family through this tough time.


Spirituality is a critical component of human life that shapes their worldview. Spirituality dictates how human live their lives which in turn defines what they indulge in or not. In this case study, Mike and Joan refuse to take their child, James, for dialysis, opting instead for prayers. James’s life takes a turn for the worse prompting Mike and his wife to reconsider dialysis to save James’s life. At this point, there is a clash between Mike’s belief in God and medicine as he believes that God can change James’s situation without medical intervention. The principle of fairness and justice advocates the need for healthcare providers to intervene appropriately on patient’s treatment, the same should be expected of parents. Through principles of nonmaleficence and beneficence, Mike and Joan must do what is right for their son, which is to accord him the appropriate medical intervention he needs.


  • Anandarajah, G. (2005). Doing a Culturally Sensitive Spiritual Assessment: Recognizing Spiritual Themes and Using the HOPE Questions. AMA Journal Of Ethics7(5). doi: 10.1001/virtualmentor.2005.7.5.cprl1-0505
  • Doukas & Hanson. (2009). The Penn Center guide to bioethics. Choice Reviews Online47(02), 47-0909-47-0909. doi: 10.5860/choice.47-0909
  • Reichman, R. (2005). End of Life and Sanctity of Life, Commentary 1. Retrieved 26 March 2021, from
  • Timmins, F., & Caldeira, S. (2017). Assessing the spiritual needs of patients. Nursing Standard31(29), 47-53. doi: 10.7748/ns.2017.e10312
  • Wiegand, D. (2015). Palliative Care. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing17(1), 7-13. doi: 10.1097/njh.0000000000000129