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Enhancing nurses’ and midwives’ competence in providing spiritual care through innovative education and compassionate care (EPICC)

Enhancing nurses’ and midwives’ competence in providing spiritual care through innovative education and compassionate care (EPICC)
Co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme ofthe European Union

About EPICC’s research

The provision of spiritual care for the health and wellbeing of patients has been the focus of a major study involving healthcare experts and practitioners across the world.  

In this context, spirituality is about a more holistic understanding of patient needs when faced with life-changing events or sadness and providing caring qualities such as warmth, compassion and empathy. 

Our research has highlighted that pre-registration nurses and midwives don’t feel adequately prepared for this aspect of care. There are gaps and inconsistencies in pre-registration nursing and midwifery education relating to a person’s spiritual and cultural world views, beliefs and practices as well the potential range of emotional responses. 

“The level of interest and engagement in this study has been incredible, indicating the depth of feeling and appetite to make a difference in this area. Experienced practitioners have come together for a greater goal – to address what is important to the patient and public, and strive for a consistent approach.”

Wilf McSherry, Professor in Nursing, Staffordshire University and University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust.


EPICC is co-funded by the European Union’s Erasmus+ programme. 

The project is informed by the views of patients, students and the public, and led by nursing and midwifery educators from six universities in Malta, the Netherlands, Norway and the UK. 

Making a difference 

We’ve been leading the debate on the provision of spiritual care and developing a standard approach to training and practical application in nursing and midwifery.     

The methodology has been to produce a set of educational standards, reached by a process of collective thought and discussion. These are: 

  • The EPICC spiritual care education standard - a set of four competencies expected from undergraduate nursing and midwifery students that will be used in the assessment of training.
  • A toolkit for education and practice.
  • A Gold Standard Matrix for Spiritual Care Education.
  • A European network of nursing and midwifery educators which will continue to share knowledge, experiences and resources in spiritual care that can be applied to nursing and midwifery education in higher education institutions across Europe.

EPICC is working to become a recognised mark for training quality in spiritual care.

To find out more, visit the EPICC project website.

Key publications 

  1. Ross, L., McSherry, W., Giske, T., van Leeuwen, R., Schep-Akkerman, A., Koslander T, Jarvis, P. (2018).  Nursing and midwifery students’ perceptions of spirituality, spiritual care, and spiritual care competency: A prospective, longitudinal, correlational European study. Nurse Education Today, 67, 64-71.  doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2018.05.002
  2. Ross, L., Giske, T., van Leeuwen, R., Baldacchino, D., McSherry, W., Narayanasamy A, Schep-Akkerman A. (2016). Factors contributing to student nurses’/midwives’ perceived competency in spiritual care.  Nurse Education Today, 36, 445-451. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2015.10.005
  3. Ross, L., van Leeuwen, R., Baldacchino, D., Giske, T., McSherry, W., Narayanasamy, A., Schep-Akkerman, A. (2014). Student nurses’ perceptions of spirituality and competence in delivering spiritual care: A European pilot study. Nurse Education Today, 34, 697-702. doi: 10.1016/j.nedt.2013.09.014