"Developing a scale of spirituality for the use in a heterogeneous South African clinical environment"

Good day,  

Thank you for taking time to read this letter. I would like to invite you to consider participating in this inquiry on spirituality in different clinical settings, as viewed by different groups involved in psychiatric care and teaching.

I am Bernard Janse van Rensburg, a member of, and an associate professor in, the Department of Psychiatry of the University of the Witwatersrand.

  1. The background to this research project is the following. I am interested in the role of spirituality in Psychiatry and have done some previous work on this topic. I am of the opinion that in our multicultural, multi-religious and spiritually diverse South African context, there is a need to have an objective measure that will be applicable to and valid in local clinical settings for people from different faith traditions and belief systems.
  2. I have undertaken a broader explorative qualitative inquiry earlier, as a first step, to capture the views and experience of local psychiatrists on the role of spirituality in South African specialist psychiatric practice and training (University of the Witwatersrand 2010).[1] Some of the results of the interview and literature content from this study were subsequently published (Janse van Rensburg et al. 2013a&b; 2012 b)[2] and a practice-orientated model was constructed on the role of defined spirituality in local specialist psychiatric practice and training. For this purpose, the concept of spirituality was speficially defined (Janse van Rensburg et al. 2012a)[3].
  3. The attributes of spirituality from this local definition have now been included in a scale for measuring spirituality in a South African context, but this instrument has to be evaluated for its psychometric validity and reliability in different local communities.
  4. This follow-up research project will undertake this evaluation and will be done by requesting participants from different groups involved in clinical care to complete the scale electronically on a voluntary and anonymous basis.
  5. The purpose with conducting this follow-up study is therefor to undertake this evaluation and will be done by requesting participants from different groups involved in clinical care (students/ practitioners/ patients/ advisors) to complete the scale electronically on a voluntary and anonymous basis.
  6. Ethics clearance to conduct this study has been obtained from the Human Research Ethics Committee (Medical) of the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS HREC), as well as from the Research Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) of the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

What is involved in the study?

  • To complete the questionnaire may take about 10-15 minutes of your time
  • You will be invited to sign onto a secure research platform website of the University of the Witwatersrand, using RedCap software
  • You will then, as a member one of the identified groups involved in psychiatric care, be invited to anonymously and voluntarily complete the scale online.
  • The scale will be set up as a questionnaire and you will first be asked to complete the  consenting section to indicate that you have understood the information and agreed to voluntary participate in the study.
  • Once you have agreed to participate, further information will be provided by the online-system to guide you through the technical aspects of completing the questionnaire.
  • The questionnaire consists of a 40 statements, or items, which have to be rated according to the level of agreement or non-agreement that you will have with these statements.
  • These levels of agreement will range from "strongly disagree, disagree, neither agree nor disagree, agree, or strongly disagree" of "rarely, occasionally, fairly often, or almost always".
  • There are no risks foreseen of being involved in this study.
  • For ethical reasons, there will be no personal compensation available for your participation, but you can indicate separate from your completion of the questionnaire, whether your entry should be included in a random draw for each participating group (students/ practitioners/ patients/ advisors) receiving a book purchase voucher from Van Schaiks or Exclusive Books stores, for the value of R500.00
  • The may therefore be no direct personal benefits to participate in the study, but your contribution to the process of validating this scale will be essential.
  • The results of the study will be made available through publication in a scientific journal, or to participants on request.
  • Please note that participation is voluntary, that refusal to participate will in no way involve penalty or loss of benefits to which you, as a student, practitioner, or patient otherwise may have been entitled.
  • The confidentiality of your participation has been secured by the anonymous online completion of the questionnaire. Allowing your entry to be included in the random draw for the R500 book vouchers will not be linkable to the information that you have provided in response to the questionnaire
  • Support/encouragement from a professional practitioner who is a specialist in the field can be provided on request

The co-supervisors' and my contact detail, as well as that of the WITS HREC and UJ FHS Research Committee is provided below in connection with any queries, problems, concerns or complaints that you may have about, or as a result of, this study.

Yours sincerely


Associate Professor ABR Janse van Rensburg

MBChB, FCPsych(SA) MMed PhD DipHSEd     


[1] University of the Witwatersrand. (2010). PhD Thesis. Janse van Rensburg, A.B.R. "The role of spirituality in South African specialist psychiatric practice and training."  Retrieved November 10, 2012, from http://wiredspace.wits.ac.za/handle/10539/11211.

[2] Janse van Rensburg, A.B.R, Szabo, C.P., Poggenpoel, M., & Myburgh, C.P.H. (2013a). Competence of medical students and residents in psychiatry regarding spirituality, at a South African school of clinical medicine. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 45, 175-188.

Janse van Rensburg, A.B.R., Myburgh, C.P.H., Szabo, C.P., & Poggenpoel, M. (2013b). The role of spirituality in specialist psychiatry: a review of the medical literature. African Journal of Psychiatry, 16,247-255.

Janse van Rensburg, A.B.R., Poggenpoel, M., Myburgh, C.P.H., & Szabo, C,P. (2012b) Experience and Views of Academic Psychiatrists on the Role of Spirituality in South African Specialist Psychiatry. Revista de Psiquiatria Clínica, 39, 122-129.

[3] Janse van Rensburg, A.B.R., Poggenpoel, M., Myburgh, C.P.H., & Szabo, C.P. (2012a). A Model for the Role of Defined Spirituality in South African Specialist Psychiatric Practice and Training.  Journal of Religion and Health, DOI 10.1007/s10943-0112-9644-3, 26 Oct  2012. Online ISSN 1573-6571.



1. Principal Investigator - Prof B Janse van Rensburg: email - albert.jansevanrensburg@wits.ac.za; Tel: 011 489 0620; Cell: 082 807 8103

2. Co-Investigators - Prof Marie Poggenpoel: email - mariep@uj.ac.za; Tel: 011 5596686; Prof Chris Myburgh: email - chrism@uj.ac.za; Tel 011 559 2680

3. WITS HREC - Ms Zanele Ndolvu: email - zanele.ndlovu@wits.ac.za; Tel: 011 717 1234/1252/2700

4. UJ FHS Research Committee Chair: Prof CHristopher Stein; email - cstein@uj.ac.za; Tel 011 559 6564

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