Another weekly guest post from Florida friend and blogger (www.simplyhealthyflorida.com), Bob Clark. Thanks, Bob!
In response to the growing public conversation at the intersection of spirituality and healthcare, The Atlantic ran an article a few days ago, “Should Your Doctor Pray With You?” . The subtitle was, “People in the hospital are usually in hard times. Nearly half would like their doctor to pray with them.”
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(model used for illustrative purposes only)
The article quotes James Tulsky, a palliative care specialist at Duke University, as saying,
“Spiritual issues are central to patients’ experience of illness, particularly when they are really sick. To ignore spirituality is to ignore a central piece of what it means for many people to be a patient. I ask a simple question of all patients. ‘What role, if any, does faith or spirituality play in your life?’ I’ve asked it hundreds of times and have never gotten a negative response.”
Studies show that many or most patients do want this conversation to take place, and that it often doesn’t.
One of the world’s best known medical centers, Johns Hopkins, is an exception.
Quaker founder, Johns Hopkins, said in 1873, “It is my especial request that the influence of religion shall be felt in and impressed upon the whole management of the Hospital; but I desire, nevertheless, that the administration of the charity shall be undisturbed by sectarian influence, discipline or control.”
Adherence to the founder’s original intent may be a key part to the institution’s long term success. Their website reads, ”Sensitivity to the patient’s spirituality has been a priority at Johns Hopkins since the hospital was founded in 1889.”
Here’s another exception. Stanford University’s Hospital and Clinics offer the following as part of their “Spiritual Care Service”:
- Open-hearted conversation about hope, gratitude, fear, connection and meaning
- A calm presence
- Prayers and blessings
- Connecting you to your faith tradition through our staff, volunteers and referrals to community resources
So maybe a broader and better question than, “Should your doctor pray with you?” would be something more like, “What role do you want spirituality to play during your stay in our hospital, and how can our staff help with that?”
The public’s growing awareness of the connection between spirituality and health may prompt more and more hospitals to offer spiritual care services similar to Duke’s, Stanford’s and Johns Hopkins’. This will be good news for me as a Christian Scientist, since spirituality has always been the major element in my own health care, and I know firsthand the vital role prayer and faith can play in healthy living and healing.
Now for some fun…not entirely unrelated. With all this talk of spirituality, do you wonder where you fit in? I did. And I found it interesting…and fun…to take the What’s your spiritual type? quiz on Beliefnet. As is often the case with multiple choice questions, the available answers may not always fit for you. But it’s fun to see where you fit on the scale. You might be surprised.