Spiritual Needs Questionnaire

Infos about the instrument

The Spiritual Needs Questionnaire

The Spiritual Needs Questionnaire (SpNQ), developed 2010 by Arndt Büssing, is an established standardized measure of existential and spiritual needs.

Addressing unmet spiritual needs foremost by health professionals, but also by psychologists and chaplains, requires specific Spiritual Care Competences. Such needs could be assessed either in personal (anamnestic) talks or in a standardized way to quantify the strength of unmet needs.

Introduction to the SpNQ

The underlying theoretical basis for the SpNQ refers to four core dimensions of spiritual needs, i.e., Connection, Peace, Meaning/Purpose, and Transcendence. These were divided into categories of social, emotional, existential, and religious needs.

The spiritual need addressed by the SpNQ can be further categorized according to Alderfer´s model of Relational, Existential and Growth needs, i.e., Relational in terms of a connection with others or the Sacred, Existential in terms of needs to find states of inner peace, hope and forgiveness, and Growth in terms of meaning in life, self-realization, and so forth.     

The questionnaire can be used either as a diagnostic tool with 27 items (plus 3 free text fields) to start a councelling talk, or as a 20-item research instrument (SpNQ-20). The SpNQ-20 differentiates four main factors:

  1. Religious Needs
  2. Needs for Inner Peace
  3. Existential Needs
  4. Giving / Generativity Needs

The 4-factorial structure was verified in a sample of patients with chronic diseases, elderly and also stressed healthy adults. These factors are in line with the definition of spirituality as described by the European Association for Palliative Care  (EAPC).  

  • Find the SpNQ for adolescents as a pdf here.
  • For adolescents a 15 item reduced version (Cronbach´s alpha = .87) with some new items to cover the topic of Attention / Positive Confirmation was validated. 
  • A reduced 10-item SpNQ Screener (Cronbach´s alpha = .79) is also available

Working with the SpNQ in a clinical setting

The SpNQ was developed to assess patients´ unmet existential/spiritual needs in a structured and standardized way. It is first of all a resource-oriented diagnostic instrument that allows both, communication and documentation. Some basic information for its use can be found here.

The process of implementation can be described in in five phases, starting from assessment of a person´s spiritual needs, planning of support options, consensus finding with the person in need, and subsequent re-evaluation processes whether and how the respective spiritual needs are met at all

For more information, see: Büssing A (Ed.) Spiritual Needs in Research and Practice. The Spiritual Needs Questionnaire as a Global Resource for Health and Social Care. Cham: Pelgrave McMillan (2021).