‘Spiritual care’ has a valued but precarious place in contemporary UK health care. Although the term is widely used, it only attracts significant attention and resources related to care at the end of life; elsewhere, spiritual care is often under-resourced and perfunctory. The author argues that a major reason for this is that proponents of spiritual care have so far failed to speak a language comprehensible to practitioners and health managers more familiar with reductionist, evidence-based work. He proposes that current developments in the cognitive and evolutionary psychology of religion have the potential to provide such a language, and to refocus a subject that has been muddled by conceptual vagueness and the multiplication of assessment tools. As a result, attention to spirituality could be liberated from its current ghetto in palliative and long-term care and become more firmly embedded and integrated into everyday nursing practice.
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