For research, it is useful to distinguish between spirituality and religiosity – although there is a profound debate whether it is adequate to separate both constructs at all. Nevertheless, spirituality is a complex and multi-dimensional construct which can be conceptualized as an open and individual experiential approach in the search for meaning and purpose in life on the one hand, or for the “Sacred” (as stated by Ken Pargament) on the other hand.
Spirituality can be found through religious engagement, through an individual experience of the divine, and/or through a connection to others, environment and the sacred. Thus, one could differentiate between spirituality in religion (which connotes a more open, individual and pluralistic faith) and spirituality as opposed to religion (which rejects organized religiosity).
Therefore one has to ask for the “core” dimensions, and differentiate these from related aspects which can be seen as the “outcomes”, i.e., altruistic behavior, feelings of inner peace, spiritual practices such as praying, meditation etc. Moreover, several persons may have specific unmet psychosocial, emotional, existential, and religious needs which are in most cases not adequately addressed in a therapeutic setting. These needs can be related to the topics of Connection, Peace, Meaning, and Transcendence, and can be found both in religious but also in a-religious persons.
Whatever definition one would choose to operationalize the complex construct, one has to be aware that it is multi-layered, and thus multidimensional approaches are preferable in several cases.
To account for the fact that several persons do not regard themselves as religious but may nevertheless have interest in secular forms of spirituality, we have developed several standardized instruments to address different aspects of spirituality.
Instruments to measure spirituality and quality of life associated dimensions
In case you need an instrument to measure specific aspects and facets of the complex construct spirituality / religiosity on the one hand and quality of life associated measures, you may find here some options (developed by our research unit at the Witten/Herdecke University) to choose: