Towards a fully-fledged integration of spiritual and medical care
In this article we aim to set out current problems that hinder a fully-fledged integration of spiritual and medical care that address these obstacles. We discuss the following five statements: 1. Spiritual care requires a clear and inclusive definition of spirituality; 2. Empirical evidence for spiritual care interventions should be improved; 3. Understanding patients’ experiences of contingency is paramount to deliver effective spiritual care; 4. Attention to spiritual needs of patients is a task for every health care practitioner; 5. Courses on spirituality and spiritual care should be mandatory in the medical curriculum. Current problems might be overcome by speaking each other’s language, which is crucial in interdisciplinary research and in good interdisciplinary collaboration. Using a clear and inclusive definition of spirituality and substantiating spiritual care using medical standards of evidence based practice is a way to speak each other’s language and to increase mutual understanding. Furthermore, including spirituality in the medical curriculum would raise awareness of medical practitioners for their task of attending to patients’ spiritual needs and, subsequently, to better, more and appropriate referral for spiritual care.
Note: this article featured in the ACPE Research Network December 2017 Article of the Month.