Spiritual Needs Questionnaire


Home of the Spiritual Needs Questionnaire

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

Addressing unmet spiritual needs by health professionals, chaplains and patents´ relatives requires specific competences. Such needs could be assessed either in personal (anamnestic) talks or in a standardized way to quantify the strength of unmet needs. For that purpose, the Spiritual Needs Questionnaire was designed in 2009.

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. These dimensions of spiritual need 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 and also stressed healthy adults.

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

The SpNQ-20 provides researchers with a reliable and valid instrument that can be used in comparative studies. It avoids exclusive religious terminology and is suited both in secular and also in religious societies.

Working with the SpNQ in a clinical setting

The SpNQ was developed to assess patients´ unmet spiritual, existential and psychosocial needs in a standardized way. It is first of all a resource-oriented diagnostic instrument that allows both, communication and documentation.

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.