Spirituality, Religion, and Humanism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


As a humanistic, patient-centered approach to medicine becomes more accepted, physicians are moving from a purely objective, systematic approach to medicine toward a more holistic approach adapted to individual patients and their values and beliefs. While doctors are often uncomfortable discussing religion and spirituality with patients, some patients may actually benefit from the integration of these beliefs into the treatment process. While the terms are often used interchangeably, “religion” and “spirituality” have different meanings; religion refers to an organized system of beliefs, while spirituality relates to how individuals seek and express meaning in life through their connections to the self, others, nature, and the sacred. Religion or spirituality can improve treatment outcomes by providing patients with a more positive perspective, a greater sense of purpose, and healthier coping strategies. Prayer and meditation can inspire the relaxation response, which can improve many health indicators. The HOPE Questions for Spiritual Assessment and the FICA Spiritual History Tool are two methods that can be used to assess patients’ attitude toward the spiritual and how treatment should acknowledge these beliefs. Medical humanism encompasses many of these practices, because it is based on the idea that the physician should focus on the whole patient, including patients’ religious or spiritual beliefs.

Original languageUndefined
Title of host publicationPrinciples of Medical Professionalism
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780197506226, 9780197506257
StatePublished - Apr 2021

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