Skip to main content


Log in

Exploring the Meaning of Spirituality and Spiritual Care in Chinese Contexts: A Scoping Review

  • Original Paper
  • Published:
Journal of Religion and Health Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Spirituality is recognised as a fundamental aspect of health and nursing care. Yet, there are few studies exploring how this concept may be understood outside of Western culture. This scoping review seeks to address this omission by focusing specifically on research conducted with Chinese populations. This is important because people from Chinese backgrounds (PBC) are now residing all over the world, and their spirituality and spiritual needs should be considered when providing healthcare. Adopting a purely generalist understanding and application of spirituality may not capture the cultural difference that exists between the East and West. This scoping review adopted Arksey and O’Malley’s method to focus on spirituality and spiritual care among PBC in health and nursing. The systematic strategy was adopted and used to search the main databases in health and nursing. Eighteen (n = 18) empirical studies were included in the review: 11 qualitative studies and seven quantitative involving 1870 participants. The scoping review revealed that in the Chinese understanding of spirituality is an abstract and personal concept which can refer to an internal vital force, experiences of suffering, and traditional Chinese cultural and religious values. As the multidimensional understanding of spirituality and spiritual care may cause confusion, these findings may provide a direction for the researchers emphasising the need for cultural and religious sensitivity when understanding of spirituality.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1

Similar content being viewed by others


Download references


Thanks to Professor Ross and Professor Kevern for reading the draft carefully and for confirming that the review was conducted appropriately.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yanping Niu.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest has been declared by the authors.

Ethical Approval

This study does not need to comply with ethical standard since it is a scoping review of existing studies to integrate and interpret the extracted findings.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Niu, Y., McSherry, W. & Partridge, M. Exploring the Meaning of Spirituality and Spiritual Care in Chinese Contexts: A Scoping Review. J Relig Health 61, 2643–2662 (2022).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: