about Spirituality & Health
A. Although the terms are often used interchangeably, they have different meanings. Religion is a specific set of organized beliefs and practices, usually shared by a group. Spirituality is more individual, and has to do with a sense of peace, purpose, and connection to others, and beliefs about the meaning of life. People may consider themselves both spiritual and religious; spiritual, but not religious; religious, but not spiritual; or neither religious nor spiritual.
A. No one really knows for sure; much more research will be needed before the relationship between the body and the mind—and some would add, the spirit—is understood. But the health of any one of these elements seems to affect the health of the others. For example, one study showed that religiously oriented patients were three times more likely to survive open-heart surgery than those who had no religious ties. At the very least, serious illnesses may challenge a patient's beliefs or religious values, resulting in high levels of spiritual or psychological distress. Talking about this distress with a caring health care provider or with a spiritual counselor who is familiar with the illness and treatment may help the patient feel better, even if they are not healed.
A. If you are treating a patient, it is important to know how their spiritual or religious beliefs may be affecting their feelings about their illness and treatment. A patient’s spiritual beliefs may affect their health care decisions and their ability to follow treatment recommendations. While it is against the law to discriminate against a patient on the basis of religious orientation, no law prohibits providers from asking whether a patient has religious or spiritual concerns that they would like to discuss.
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Call for Free DVD — Mental Health: A Guide for
Latinos and their Families
Humility and Compassionate Presence at the End of Life A website
developed at Santa Clara university presents cases regarding culturally
competent health care, each linked to several short ethical
reflections. Fictional patients are originally from Iran, Afghanistan,
Oaxaca, and Puerto Rico.
Mental Health, Minorities and Drug Therapy Medscape and the University of New Jersey offer a new CME-eligible online program entitled, "Improving Outcomes of Pharmacotherapy in Minority Patients With Psychosis."
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Consumer info clearinghouse run by National Institutes of Health. Staff researches questions in English or Spanish, using government databases of scientific and medical literature and sends the results to you. Includes a link to a live online chat with a health information specialist.
and Health International: Peer reviewed, non-denominational quarterly
journal explores spirituality as it affects those “who work in
healing and caring ways.”
Courses from the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing touch on a variety of health topics such as complementary healing practices; different health care systems: Indigenous North American, Vedic, Traditional Chinese, biomedicine; and how personal cultural experience affects one's view of health, illness, and healing and one's professional practice. View the entire course roster at the link above.
Hospice Minnesota Multicultural Initiative:
Hospice Minnesota is the "first
call" resource center for information
about care for people who are dying and their families. The organization’s
multicultural initiative connects with audiences that have traditionally
not made use of hospice services.
Taking Charge of Your Health: Consumer information on integrating complementary and conventional health care, navigating the health care system and creating a healthy lifestyle. Includes personal stories of people who successfully used complementary therapies. Sponsored by the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality and Healing.
How would you know what I want as I die?
Spirituality shapes the health care choices we make. Guessing is no substitute for asking. Learn how and why to talk clearly about spiritual values.