Spiritual Care Organizations release Evidence-Based White Paper for Providing Spiritual Support in Medical Field

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The evidence suggests that spiritual care needs to be part of the culture of every health care providing system or institution


HealthCare Chaplaincy Network (HCCN) and its affiliate, the Spiritual Care Association (SCA) have released their newest white paper on the integration of spiritual care in the medical field for the role of a physician entitled “Spiritual Care and Physicians: Understanding Spirituality in Medical Practice.”

The white paper – an evidence-based literature review – is designed to help guide the field, empowering physicians to better integrate basic levels of spiritual care into their practice, raise their comfort levels in addressing spiritual issues and understand when to refer to professional chaplains to provide in-depth support.

“The evidence suggests that spiritual care needs to be part of the culture of every health care providing system or institution,” said Rev. Eric J. Hall, President and CEO of HCCN and SCA. “This paper offers a guide for physicians, not because of some religious agenda or sentimental persuasion, but because the evidence validates the importance of caring for the human spirit.”

The American Medical Association (AMA) advised that “inquiry into, as well as discussion and consideration of, individual patient spirituality” is an important component of health and that physicians should promote access to spiritual care. However, many physicians have little to no training in this area which can lead to not fully understanding its value and integration into health care. Among the questions explored in this groundbreaking paper are: What can a physician do to address the spiritual needs of a patient or family member? How is spirituality the same or different from religion? When should a physician refer a patient or family to a professional chaplain? Is it ever okay to pray with a patient or to share the physician’s own faith and religious resources?

With contributions by Deborah B. Marin, M.D., Vansh Sharma, M.D., Rev. David Fleenor, BCC, (each from Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai) and Richard Powers, M.D. (University of Alabama at Birmingham), this document lays out the roles of physicians as spiritual care generalists and professional chaplains as spiritual care specialists. The paper notes that providing proactive spiritual care has been proven to have a positive impact on clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction and cost, which echoes the work of SCA’s Medical Advisory Council, to which Marin and Powers are active in. View online: http://www.healthcarechaplaincy.org/physicians

This white paper is the third produced by HCCN and SCA in an ongoing effort to introduce the value of spiritual care in a health care setting. The inaugural document, “SPIRITUAL CARE: What It Means, Why It Matters in Health Care” was released in October 2016. This was followed by Spiritual Care and Nursing: A Nurse’s Contribution and Practice in March 2017. View all white papers online: http://www.healthcarechaplaincy.org/white-papers.

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Brad Bennett

Brad Bennett

Brad grew up in a small town in northern Iowa. He studied chemistry in college, graduated, and married his wife one month later. They were then blessed with two baby boys within the first four years of marriage. Having babies gave their family a desire to return to the old paths – to nourish their family with traditional, homegrown foods; rid their home of toxic chemicals and petroleum products; and give their boys a chance to know a simple, sustainable way of life. They are currently building a homestead from scratch on two little acres in central Texas. There’s a lot to be done to become somewhat self-sufficient, but they are debt-free and get to spend their days living this simple, good life together with their five young children.
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