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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 187-189

Spirituality and Health Care in Contemporary World

Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, RIMS, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India

Date of Submission11-Jul-2021
Date of Decision22-Dec-2021
Date of Acceptance20-Apr-2022
Date of Web Publication29-Aug-2022

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Prerna Anand
Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, RIMS, Ranchi, Jharkhand
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/JME.JME_68_21

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How to cite this article:
Anand P, Kiran AK, Sagar V, Kumar D, Tanu T. Spirituality and Health Care in Contemporary World. J Med Evid 2022;3:187-9

How to cite this URL:
Anand P, Kiran AK, Sagar V, Kumar D, Tanu T. Spirituality and Health Care in Contemporary World. J Med Evid [serial online] 2022 [cited 2022 Oct 5];3:187-9. Available from: http://www.journaljme.org/text.asp?2022/3/2/187/354986

  Spirituality and Health Care in Contemporary World Top

The chief motive of human beings on this planet earth is survival. By survival, in today's world, we intending to say to be healthy to be able to live a long and prosperous life. There are various dimensions of health that need to be accomplished to be entitled as a healthy individual. These dimensions can be physical, mental, social, emotional, vocational, spiritual, philosophical, cultural, socio-economical, environmental, etc. Consequently, the advances in medical science are aiming towards a holistic approach to health. Proponents of holistic health consider that it is high time to give serious thoughtfulness to the spiritual dimension and to the job this plays in health and disease.[1]

Spirituality is a broad theory with plentiful perspectives. People describe a spiritual experience as sacred or transcendent or simply a deep sense of aliveness and interconnectedness. The spiritual dimension denotes to that part of the individual which reaches out and strives for the essence and purpose of life. It includes integrity, some higher self, and belief in things that are beyond normal human comprehension.[2] Spirituality's concept is found in many beliefs and cultures. It is very individual for every single person, and they search for the meaning of life through their religion, belief in God, rationalism, humanism, family or even sports.[3] It can be said that every person who is healthy physically is not necessarily healthy in a holistic sense. With all the basic requirements met, including proper health facilities and a decent standard of living, yet there is a rise in people being mentally and emotionally drained, leading them to be unhappy. Hence, it is quite questionable if only being physically healthy is what our society desires and more importantly if that is what our society needs.

In today's world, where most people can fulfill their basic needs in terms of social wellbeing and a better quality of life, the curve of stress, anxiety and depression in people has continuously been on the rise. Thus, the question is why they are not feeling happy or good about their life? Why they feel unsatisfied in their life? Why they feel so low that some even go into depression? All these questions are answered when they turn to spirituality when they start to question the true meaning behind life, their problems and their purpose in life.[4],[5] People have started discussing their mental health. They are now talking about how a luxurious or fulfilling lifestyle cannot ensure better mental health.[6] On the contrary, people with a better standard of living are found to be more prone to mental health problems.[7] They are so engaged in the hustle and bustle of life that they do not have time to introspect themselves and discover the essence of life. As a result, they get annoyed and exasperated when all the things are perfect and ideal but still do not feel a level of fulfilment in their life. Now here is the role of spirituality, earlier people used to practice spirituality under the cover of religion. Every day practicing meditation and prayers were a part of their religious practices. Now, the spirituality stands with its individuality without any religious authority. Anyone can practice spirituality; it is not necessarily confined to any particular religion, and now, it is understood that spirituality is different than religious practices.

Spirituality is very difficult to define. Researchers have struggled a lot to assess spirituality. It is considered more distinct, something people describe for themselves that is free of the rules, regulations and responsibilities associated with religion. There are a group of people who have a sturdy viewpoint about spirituality having an entirely different individuality as compared to religion.[8] The meaning of spirituality and how people approach it has evolved in all these years. Earlier, people used to follow spirituality as a way of living. They used to inculcate it in their daily routine. Practicing yoga and meditation were taught in the Gurukuls.[9] As time passed; somewhere, people forgot the use and benefit of those practices. The lack of knowledge about the benefits of yoga and meditation and how they affected mental well-being were blurred. All this led to the reduced practice of spirituality. Spirituality is again in limelight in today's world because of the shear stress that everyone is under constantly. Today's generation is obsessed with a particular idea of life. People are now running in a rat race to accomplish success. They do not know where this race is going to end or if they want to be a part of this race in the first place. The quality of life that we 'want' and the quality of life that we 'need' are now quite different. As a result, many completely lose interest in their life, achievements do not give them pleasure, after attaining a particular milestone in their career, they are even more confused as to where they want to go from here. What they need is to slow down and withdraw from this rat race and introspect themselves. Spirituality gives a person insight into their life. When it is known where to aim, it becomes easy for a human mind to be focused and to go in a certain direction.

Spirituality has been seen to be quite beneficial to other groups of people besides the obvious normal population such as psychiatric patients, old aged people, drug addicts and depressed patients. Practicing spirituality helps people tackle their overwhelming emotions influenced by either internal or external forces.[10] Depressed patients were notably more likely to be inclined towards spiritual activities than towards religious activities.[11] Among the depressed patients, the severity of depressive symptoms was also inversely related to religious indicators.[12] People who both receive professional treatment and attend spirituality-based support programmes are far more likely to remain sober than if they receive only professional treatment. The human body needs repair when it gets sick, similarly, its mind and soul also get sick and it needs rest, rejuvenation and repair if needed. Spirituality is needed now more than ever. The way mental disturbance affects a person in every field of their life, be it professionally or in their personal life is something to be given attention to. It should not take a pandemic to happen for people to start taking their mental health seriously. There is a lot to be done and to be known in this field of spirituality and how it has a positive impact on the health of people. There are a group of people who do not associate themselves with any religion or spirituality. Some groups of people strongly believe in them. Others should be inclusive of everyone's spiritual or religious values irrespective of their spiritual status but also, they should be able to recognise when those beliefs are distorted, limiting and contribute to pathology.[13]

The care which is spiritual or compassionate includes all the aspects of a patient and not only the physical aspect. It should include the patient's emotional, social and spiritual aspects too. Many patients who suffer from any type of disease or ailment tend to draw strength from the prayers or beliefs.[14] The will to continue or pass the tough stage of their life, and sometimes accepting the illness and making peace with one's life-helps in their healing or helps them to continue with all the life has given them. Spirituality has a positive impact on a person's life as it helps in providing a purposeful personal existence and a sense of fulfilment in life.[15],[16] If we take the example of placebos, patients not given a specific drug for treating disease, then also many tend to become free from the disease and if not that they show a level of improvement.[17] Many studies on this placebo effect had concluded that our beliefs or spiritual strengths are indeed contributing something, and it can add to the positive outcomes in our health. Benson concluded that the way stress can affect any disease to some extent, similarly, 'relaxation response' can evoke relaxation response as an effective therapy. He called relaxation response to the response where people who meditated regularly from 10 to 20 min twice a day showed effective treatment response in chronic pain, anxiety, depression, insomnia, infertility and were a useful addition in the treatment of cancer or HIV patients.[18] Prayer is the most widespread form of complementary and alternative medicine.[19] The impact of meditation and affirmations working together with contemporary medicine is now being recognised to promote healthy living and healing.[20] Nurses are the closest interactive caregivers, and they are responsible for giving evidence-based care in all the fields of their health. They should be trained and introduced to techniques so that they can provide the utmost patient-centred care possible.[21]

Health-care givers should respect their patient's beliefs and they should be compassionate towards them. They should try to incorporate their beliefs in their treatment plans whether they approve of their beliefs or not. Puchalski says that younger future clinicians should be trained in attentive listening, mindfulness and other ways that can help them to be more compassionate towards their patients.[22],[23] As they talk to the patient and excavate his feelings towards the situation, they can deduce a lot of information about things that mean something to him. The things one cares about or holds meaning in one's life or things which deeply motivate them: all these are a part of a person's life which he treasures and is borne out of his spiritual beliefs, and it has an impact on their moral vision, values and decisions they make in their life.[24] Health-care professionals should talk to the patients about their ways of coping in times of crisis and their source of calmness when tackling uncertain ups and downs in life. They should know about the things that bring about a sense of belongingness or attachment with the universe, about their experiences that were beyond human limits, and their thoughts about transcendence.[25],[26] The patient and caregiver's values can sometimes lead to conflict or moral anguish. They should respect their individual spiritual beliefs even when they are not in alignment with patient's beliefs to the extent it does not interfere with the appropriate health care and treatment.[27],[28] Health-care workers should strive to understand the spiritual needs, and if needed, they may assist the patients in their spiritual strive. They should also teach medical students about it so that they can understand the importance of the spiritual dimension of health to provide wholesome care to the patient.

The whole world is facing a pandemic right now, and there is a common saying going around that 'If you can't go outside, go inside'.[29] As a result, a lot of people have turned to spirituality to tackle the disruption of mental peace.[30] On the one hand, we have spirituality healing people mentally and paving their way to a better way of life, conversely, we also have faith healers who feed on people's superstitions, especially on those who have not been enlightened by the knowledge about medical sciences. A large chunk of the rural population who are known to have not been able to access medical facilities as it would be readily available for the urban population tend to lean on the spiritual healers. They are few people in their society who are believed that they could magically cure the disease or that they could talk to God to give the diseased the mercy of the higher power so that they could be disease free. It remains a mystery as to how this cult of spiritual or faith healers fuels the beliefs of the people or if there is something that is healing people which not have been yet proven scientifically. It can also not be denied that if one cannot see something that does not attest that it is not there. Today's world is flooded with all kinds of preachers and advocates of various sects delivering spiritual awakening. There is a requirement of a mechanism to filter out the essence of spirituality from those sects and to apply it in a way that leads to better outcomes of patient's health. There is a need to reach a common ground where patient and health-care delivery can work in synergism to achieve a better environment for the patient's recovery towards a healthy future.

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Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

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