Religion and healthcare should mix, study says

Oct 23, 2007

Research shows that religion and spirituality are linked to positive physical and mental health; however, most studies have focused on people with life threatening diseases. A new study from the University of Missouri-Columbia shows that religion helps many individuals with disabilities adjust to their impairments and gives new meaning to their lives.

According to the study, persons facing impending death may use religion to help them accept their condition, come to terms with unresolved life issues, and prepare for death. However, the study suggests that religion may be an equally, if not more important, coping mechanism for persons with chronic disabilities such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke and arthritis.

“Although many individuals with disabilities turn to religion to help them deal with their situations, to date, religion is infrequently discussed in rehabilitation settings and is rarely investigated in rehabilitation research. To better meet the needs of persons with disabilities, this needs to change,” said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the MU School of Health Professions.

The study notes that few practical suggestions exist for how to address religion in health care. Heath care providers should encourage religious practices important to individuals, such as yoga, reading of religious texts, meditation or laying on of hands. Students should be taught about various religious beliefs and how they might be used to the patients’ advantage in a rehabilitation setting.

“Although some professionals may feel uncomfortable obtaining information about patients’ religious beliefs, it is no different than inquiring about their sexual, psychological, substance use and legal histories,” said Johnstone, who also is the director of the MU Spirituality and Health Research Project at the MU Center on Religion and the Professions.

Praying with patients may be appropriate in some cases, according to the study. Rehabilitation psychologists, counselors and chaplains also should work together to initiate forgiveness interventions. Patients who were injured as the result of the actions of others may be better able to work toward recovery if they can use their religious beliefs to work through emotions surrounding the cause of the disability.

“It is also very important that rehabilitation professionals be aware of the different religious customs that should be considered when evaluating and treating patients, including information regarding the appropriateness of physical touching by others, preferences regarding gender specific services, dress and hygiene customs,” Johnstone said.

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

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Elenneth
5 / 5 (1) Oct 23, 2007
Studies involving religious aspects are always hard to study and document in a scientific manner, considering that the foundations of religion are faith and intuition, wheras the foundations of science are on observation and experimentation. The two foundations are very different and therefore it is hard to use science to support or refute matters involving religion.

However, here we see the a study documenting the effects of religious practices on the body and mind as seen in the increased ability of patients to cope with impending death when practicing various aspects of their religious beliefs.

Most interesting.
MongHTan,PhD
4.5 / 5 (2) Oct 27, 2007
"Studies involving religious aspects are always hard to study and document in a scientific manner, considering that the foundations of religion are faith and intuition, whereas the foundations of science are on observation and experimentation. The two foundations are very different and therefore it is hard to use science to support or refute matters involving religion."

The observations on "Religion vs Science" above are a bit outdated.

By modern comprehension of these matters, Religion may be considered the spiritual foundation that is based on our beliefs in faiths, intuitions, superstitions, etc; which albeit are matters of our Emotion. Whereas Neuroscience today has increasingly shown the fact that the health of our Mind and Body is invariably dependent on the well being of our Emotion.

As such, Science has indeed helped uncover the usefulness of Religion on "the effects of religious practices on the body and mind as seen in the increased ability of [religious] patients to cope with impending death when practicing various aspects of their [respective] religious beliefs."

Please note the edits on the emphasis on each idiosyncratic cases above, and the study caution on rehabilitating each religious cases below (as Religion may not be applicable to any stoic atheist-patients at all):

"It is also very important that rehabilitation professionals be aware of the different religious customs that should be considered when evaluating and treating patients, including information regarding the appropriateness of physical touching by others, preferences regarding gender specific services, dress and hygiene customs," Johnstone said.
ChaplainVirginia
5 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2007
The specialist on the interdisciplinary health care team is the Board Certified Chaplain, who integrates healing of body, mind and spirit. After all, healing modalities from ancient to modern times have been based in spirituality. The earliest hospitals in modern times were established by religious communities and spirituality has always been integral to healing. Only with the advances of the scientific age has medical dominance overshadowed spirituality in patient care. Technology and science are essential tools for modern health care; by themselves, however, many diagnostic and therapeutic modalities would simply scare the bejeebers out of any ill person. Compassion and care of the soul is essential. It should be a chief concern of any person involved in the healing arts. However, chaplains are specialists in understanding and effecting the benefits of spirituality in health care. Chaplains in health care do not work for any religious organization; rather, they work for the hospital as health care practicioners. A Board Certified Chaplain has received an advanced degree in theology, spirituality, or ministry and in addition has served an internship and residency in the hospital with supervision and training for a minimum of 1600 patient care hours and didactic sessions. Chaplains provide listening skills, accompany patients, families and staff in challenging and/or acute situations, and provide leadership in prayer, ritual and holistic modalities of healing according to the specific needs of the individual patient, as well as the families and the health care team. Chaplains can always be available for consultation for trigger events such as poor diagnosis, loss, fear, emotional complications, and disturbed family dynamics. It is agreed that the foundations of science and technology are empirical studies and observed evidence and the foundations of spirituality are subjective experiences such as faith and culture. Nonetheless, the foundations of healing have always been associated with life, breath and spirit, expressed in so many ways in many places, cultures and times. This study noted that "few practical suggestions exist for how to address religion..." Chaplains are specialists in the spirituality of healing and the expression of religius needs. Every hospital needs a staff chaplain.
Peace and all goodness,
Virginia Carreiro, M.A., Pastoral Ministry
N.A.C.C. Board Certified Chaplain
MongHTan,PhD
4 / 5 (1) Oct 28, 2007
Wow, I think ChaplainVirginia%u2019s excellent commentary required a point by point rebuttal or clarification as follows:
The specialist on the interdisciplinary health care team is the Board Certified Chaplain, who integrates healing of body, mind and spirit. After all, healing modalities from ancient to modern times have been based in spirituality. The earliest hospitals in modern times were established by religious communities and spirituality has always been integral to healing.

1] This is an over emphasis on the role of a chaplain on the healing of body, mind and spirit of patients, whose conditions may not be diagnosed by any chaplains. Spirituality may work fine on an individual%u2019s wellbeing before contracting any disease; however, if a person becomes seriously ill without proper modern medical diagnosis, no amount of spirituality or religious prayers could wish the contracted disease away, if no immediate medical care and treatment are undertaken. Hint: How can one wish a growing cancer away? Or a contracted STD, such as syphilis or AIDS, without understanding the etiology of cancer or STD pathology?
Only with the advances of the scientific age has medical dominance overshadowed spirituality in patient care. Technology and science are essential tools for modern health care; by themselves, however, many diagnostic and therapeutic modalities would simply scare the bejeebers out of any ill person.

2] This exactly shows the fact that spirituality alone may not be a cure-all for any contracted diseases without any proper medical attention and intervention. In our cases, for example, a cancer patient should seek surgical treatment, therapies, and/or in combination of all appropriate diagnostic and therapeutic modalities, in prior to seeking spiritual healing! Whereas a qualified chaplain could definitely help ease fears in this intensive and extensive cancer patient care and treatment process!
Compassion and care of the soul is essential. It should be a chief concern of any person involved in the healing arts. However, chaplains are specialists in understanding and effecting the benefits of spirituality in health care. Chaplains in health care do not work for any religious organization; rather, they work for the hospital as health care practitioners.

3] Well, professionally, let the qualified doctor cure the disease, and the chaplain care for the soul of [I]religious[/I] patients, if necessary (as atheists may not believe in souls).
A Board Certified Chaplain has received an advanced degree in theology, spirituality, or ministry and in addition has served an internship and residency in the hospital with supervision and training for a minimum of 1600 patient care hours and didactic sessions. Chaplains provide listening skills, accompany patients, families and staff in challenging and/or acute situations, and provide leadership in prayer, ritual and holistic modalities of healing according to the specific needs of the individual patient, as well as the families and the health care team. Chaplains can always be available for consultation for trigger events such as poor diagnosis, loss, fear, emotional complications, and disturbed family dynamics. It is agreed that the foundations of science and technology are empirical studies and observed evidence and the foundations of spirituality are subjective experiences such as faith and culture. Nonetheless, the foundations of healing have always been associated with life, breath and spirit, expressed in so many ways in many places, cultures and times. This study noted that "few practical suggestions exist for how to address religion..." Chaplains are specialists in the spirituality of healing and the expression of religious needs. Every hospital needs a staff chaplain.

4] Well said; and if I may, that the training curriculum of a qualified hospital chaplain must nowadays include healthcare sciences, multiculturalism, religious pluralism, etc without proselytism! Thank you all!
CaptainChurch
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 28, 2007
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CaptainChurch
1 / 5 (1) Oct 28, 2007
ChaplainVirginia
5 / 5 (1) Nov 08, 2007
This is Chaplain Virginia posting my comments to the points brought up by Mong H. Tan, Ph.D.

1. Every good chaplain acknowledges that spirituality does not "cure" diseases. The chaplain is the specialist in the spirituality of healing(I failed to include that modifier.). The physician is the specialist in medical modalities, as separate and distinct as saying the dietician is the specialist in healthy eating or the physiatrist is the specialist in rehabilitation. The chaplain is not central to the health care team, nor is she responsible for "curing" anything, nor can she "diagnose" illnesses. Chaplains certainly make spiritual assessments, whereas other specialists can and should do basic spiritual screening for possible spiritual distress in their patients. Spirituality may be just as important for healing as for wellness. Only in this area is the chaplain the specialist. With regard to Dr. Tan's Point #2, I concur completely! Science and technology have advanced health care immensely and definitively, although the model of medical dominance is neither the only model nor necessarily the best from a holistic perspective. One important intervention a chaplain can make is to help reframe a patient's approach to their wellbeing when they believe "God will make me get better --but I must have enough faith," or worse, "God is punishing me." This is toxic religion. The medical approach is essential in today's health care, of course. As an aside, the medical approach can be detrimental, also, when a patient believes that their doctor is their only hope, and, for instance, becomes dependent upon and demanding of pharmacologic or surgical interventions. With Point #3, I agree one hundred per cent. Nonetheless, healing involves psychosocial/spiritual approaches also, and this is where the chaplain comes in, addressing the spiritual needs of patients, families and staff. Point #4: It is very important to make a clear distinction between spirituality and religiosity. The chaplain as a specialist knows religion; she also understands spirituality. Chaplains can approach care of the patient using the patient's religious practices, i.e., prayer, ritual, symbolism, moral codes,etc., but chaplains also work with athiests, exploring meaning and purpose in life; finding hope and affirming relationships. Chaplains do not make assumptions about belief systems, but rather help patients utilize their inner strengths. Point #4 is solid, and a point with which any qualified, board certified chaplain would agree. A chaplain who proselytizes should be fired!
I would love to dialog with you about the current agitation and reactionary responses to chaplains who "pray in the name of Jesus" and how I believe this is a disrespectful incursion into the autonomy and integrity of persons and institutions.
Thanx for your thoughtful,respectful comments.
Peace and all goodness,
Virginia Carreiro,
MongHTan,PhD
not rated yet Nov 10, 2007
This is Chaplain Virginia posting my comments to the points brought up by Mong H. Tan, Ph.D.

1. Every good chaplain acknowledges that spirituality does not "cure" diseases. The chaplain is the specialist in the spirituality of healing (I failed to include that modifier). The physician is the specialist in medical modalities, as separate and distinct as saying the dietician is the specialist in healthy eating or the physiatrist is the specialist in rehabilitation. The chaplain is not central to the health care team, nor is she responsible for "curing" anything, nor can she "diagnose" illnesses. Chaplains certainly make spiritual assessments, whereas other specialists can and should do basic spiritual screening for possible spiritual distress in their patients. Spirituality may be just as important for healing as for wellness. Only in this area is the chaplain the specialist.


1] Since the chaplain is the specialist in the spirituality of healing, I think the role of the chaplain could be an integral and central part of the healthcare team, if the patient understands that the healing of any contracted diseases is a both the physical and spiritual process, depending on each individual cases of the disease, that must first be appropriately diagnosed and treated medically, before the patient%u2019s spiritual healing could begin.

Professionally, the healthcare conscious chaplain could certainly be able to help enhance the patient%u2019s disease-fighting spirits at the start and to the finish of a disease-diagnostic and therapeutic process, which at times could be medically intensive and extensive, depending on each case of the disease, that the patient might have had contracted with.

With regard to Dr. Tan's Point #2, I concur completely! Science and technology have advanced health care immensely and definitively, although the model of medical dominance is neither the only model nor necessarily the best from a holistic perspective. One important intervention a chaplain can make is to help reframe a patient's approach to their well being when they believe "God will make me get better --but I must have enough faith," or worse, "God is punishing me." This is toxic religion. The medical approach is essential in today's health care, of course. As an aside, the medical approach can be detrimental, also, when a patient believes that their doctor is their only hope, and, for instance, becomes dependent upon and demanding of pharmacologic or surgical interventions.


2] This is a general misconception of the %u201Cmedical vs. spiritual%u201D approach. In any contracted diseases, the acute, proper, medical diagnosis and treatment (pharmacological, surgical or otherwise) must precede any spiritual (or religious holistic) approach; otherwise, the hospital-admitted patient might quickly succumb to the underlying disease, whether with or without the intervention of a religious or spiritual healer, including the chaplain.

Importantly, the psychologically and spiritually conscious chaplain would not dispend or proselytize any religion that might be toxic or run counter to the patient%u2019s own religion or belief system or will and wishes to subsequent spiritual healing!

With Point #3, I agree one hundred per cent. Nonetheless, healing involves psychosocial/spiritual approaches also, and this is where the chaplain comes in, addressing the spiritual needs of patients, families and staff.


3] Exactly! After the acute medical interventions for a cure of the disease, as explained in 1] and 2] above, the healthcare conscious chaplain would now help heal the patient (if necessary, upon patient%u2019s request) psychologically and spiritually.

Point #4: It is very important to make a clear distinction between spirituality and religiosity. The chaplain as a specialist knows religion; she also understands spirituality. Chaplains can approach care of the patient using the patient's religious practices, i.e., prayer, ritual, symbolism, moral codes, etc., but chaplains also work with atheists, exploring meaning and purpose in life; finding hope and affirming relationships. Chaplains do not make assumptions about belief systems, but rather help patients utilize their inner strengths. Point #4 is solid, and a point with which any qualified, board certified chaplain would agree. A chaplain who proselytizes should be fired!


4] Well said; I%u2019m speechless!

I would love to dialog with you about the current agitation and reactionary responses to chaplains who "pray in the name of Jesus" and how I believe this is a disrespectful incursion into the autonomy and integrity of persons and institutions.

Thanx for your thoughtful, respectful comments.
Peace and all goodness, Virginia Carreiro


5] Well analyzed; in fact, I%u2019ve been in dialogues in Science and Religion worldwide, including your issues, especially with the concerned PhysOrg.com Readers here:

http://forum.phys...pic=6365&view=findpost&p=277948

Thank you, and you%u2019re welcome to join in the above Science and Religion dialogue, at your convenience, of course!

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