Operationalizing the Measuring What Matters Spirituality Quality Metric in a Population of Hospitalized, Critically Ill Patients and Their Family Members

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Context Measuring What Matters (MWM) quality indicators support measurement of the percentage of patients who have spiritual discussions, if desired. Objectives The objective of this study was to 1) determine the ease of, and barriers to, prospectively collecting MWM spirituality quality measure data and 2) further explore the importance of spirituality in a seriously ill, hospitalized population of critically ill patients and their family members. Methods Electronic medical record (EMR) review and cross-sectional survey of intensive care unit (ICU) patients and their family members from October to December 2015. Participants were in four adult ICUs totaling 68 beds at a single academic, urban, tertiary care center which has ICU-assigned chaplains and an in-house, 24-hour, on-call chaplain. Results All patients had a “Spiritual Risk Screen” which included two questions identifying patient religion and whether a chaplain visit was desired. Approximately 2/3 of ICU patients were eligible, and there were 144 respondents (50% female; 57% patient and 43% family member), with the majority being Caucasian or African American (68% and 21%, respectively). Common religious identifications were Christian or no faith tradition (76% and 11%, respectively). Approximately half of patients had an EMR chaplain note although it did not document presence of a “spiritual discussion.” No study patients received palliative care consultation. A majority (85%) noted that spirituality was “important to them” and that prevalence remained high across respondent age, race, faith tradition, or admitting ICU. Conclusion Operationalizing the MWM spirituality quality indicator was challenging as elements of a “spiritual screening” or documentation of a “spiritual discussion” were not clearly documented in the EMR. The high prevalence of spirituality among respondents validates the importance of spirituality as a potential quality metric.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)650-655
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2017


  • Measuring What Matters quality indicators
  • chaplaincy
  • intensive care units
  • spiritual care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Nursing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


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