Guide Spiritual Assessment in Healthcare Practice

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For many people, religion provides an important foundation from which to meet the numerous challenges that life presents. For others religion may be associated with negative experiences. Faith—can mean a person's belief and trust in something eg, God and may or may not pertain directly to religion as in "What is your faith?

For example: 1 a mother having difficulty understanding why a loving God would allow her child to die; or 2 a dying patient feeling cut off from sources of spiritual love. Spiritual Assessment—Methods to identify a patient's spiritual suffering and spiritual needs related to medical care. There has been a great deal of discussion in the literature regarding the ethical and boundary issues involved in incorporating spirituality into medical care [5].


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In a multicultural society, it is important to keep in mind that physicians and patients frequently do not come from the same cultural background or belief system. Since patients in medical and spiritual distress are often in a vulnerable position, it is critical that health care providers be sensitive and careful in their approach to patients. Physicians should also be aware of their limitations in training and expertise in spiritual care and should utilize the help of trained chaplains in complex or difficult situations.

The HOPE questions are an example of one approach to spiritual assessment [4]. These questions were designed as a starting place for health care professionals interested in the spiritual health of their patients. They may open the door for more in-depth discussion when needed.

Spirituality in Healthcare: Perspectives for Innovative Practice | SpringerLink

The HOPE approach asks about:. Examples of questions for each of these domains can be found online in an article describing the HOPE tool [4]. Once a patient's spiritual needs have been assessed, there are several possible options for health care professionals not specifically trained as clinical chaplains. The spiritual assessment is the first step towards addressing the spiritual as well as mental and physical well-being of patients.

If done in a compassionate, culturally sensitive way, it can help provide a great deal of relief to our suffering patients. Virtual Mentor. Terminology Words such as spirituality and religion carry a variety of meanings for different people. They include the big picture questions such as: "What is the nature of the universe? Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. Assessment and management of chronic pain. Bloomington, Minn. Pittsburgh, Pa. Patient preference for physician discussion and practice of spirituality.

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J Gen Intern Med. Religion and family medicine: a survey of physicians and patients. Primary care physician preferences regarding spiritual behavior in medical practice. Arch Intern Med.

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Beliefs of primary care residents regarding spirituality and religion in clinical encounters with patients: a study at a midwestern U. Acad Med. Addressing spiritual concerns of patients: family physicians' attitudes and practices. Medical school curricula in spirituality and medicine. Spirituality and medicine: prevalence of spirituality-in-medicine instruction at osteopathic medical schools.

J Am Osteopath Assoc. Does religious attendance prolong survival? A six-year follow-up study of 3, older adults.

Frequent attendance at religious services and mortality over 28 years. Am J Public Health. Luskin F. Review of the effect of spiritual and religious factors on mortality and morbidity with a focus on cardiovascular and pulmonary disease. J Cardiopulm Rehabil. Byrd RC.

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Spiritual Assessment in Healthcare Practice

Positive therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer in a coronary care unit population. South Med J. A randomized, controlled trial of the effects of remote, intercessory prayer on outcomes in patients admitted to the coronary care unit [published correction appears in Arch Intern Med. O'Laoire S. An experimental study of the effects of distant, intercessory prayer on self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Altern Ther Health Med. Spirituality, religion, and pediatrics: intersecting worlds of healing. O'Hara DP.

Is there a role for prayer and spirituality in health care? Med Clin North Am. Int J Epidemiol.


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Association between attendance at religious services and self-reported health in 22 European countries. Soc Sci Med. Do patients want physicians to inquire about their spiritual or religious beliefs if they become gravely ill? The George Washington. Institute for Spirituality and Health. Anandarajah G, Hight E.

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Contact afpserv aafp. Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions. Read the Issue. Sign Up Now. Sep 15, Issue. The Spiritual Assessment. C 9 Addressing spirituality may help when forming a comprehensive treatment program for patients with chronic pain. C 10 Spirituality should be addressed as one of the core components of quality palliative care.

Importance Have your beliefs influenced how you take care of yourself in this illness? Community Are you part of a spiritual or religious community? Is this of support to you, and how? Address in care How would you like me to address these issues in your health care? Table 1. What do you hold on to during difficult times? O: organized religion Are you part of a religious or spiritual community? Does it help you? P: personal spirituality and practices Do you have personal spiritual beliefs? E: effects on medical care and end-of-life issues Does your current situation affect your ability to do the things that usually help you spiritually?

Table 2. Do you have a spiritual or faith preference? What helps you through hard times?