Research Demonstrates that Spiritual Care Offers Benefits for Patients and Families
Spirituality has been shown to make a difference in the recovery process for patients and their families. Six research studies are summarized below that describe the benefits of attending to the spirituality of patients and family members.
Providence Hospital is pleased to offer ecumenical pastoral care services to persons of all faiths. For more information on pastoral care services at Providence, please call 251-633-1341.
1. Supporting Religious/Spiritual Belief Practices
A recent meta-analysis of data from forty-two published mortality studies involving approximately 126,000 participants demonstrated that persons who reported frequent religious involvement were significantly more likely to live longer compared to persons who were involved infrequently (McCullough, Hoyt, Larson, Koenig & Thorensen, 2000)
2. The Importance of Religious/Spiritual Coping during Illness
Religious coping, although related to non-religious coping, is distinct and makes unique contributions to the coping process. Religious and non-religious coping are not functionally redundant. (VandeCreek, Pargament, Belavich, Cowell & Friedel, 1999; Pargament, Cole, Vandecreek, Brant & Perez, 1999)
In a study of women with breast cancer, 88 percent reported that religion was important to them and 85 percent indicated it helped them cope. (Johnson & Spilka, 1991)
3. Responding to Spiritual Distress
Studies point to the importance of spiritual distress that is, un-resolved religious or spiritual conflicts and doubts. This distress is associated with decreased health, recovery and adjustment to illness. (Berg, Fonss, Reed & VandeCreek, 1995; Fitchett, Rybarczyk, DeMarco & Nicholas, 1999; Firchett, 1999a; Fitchett, 1999b)
CONCLUSION: Professional healthcare chaplains play an especially important role in identifying patients in spiritual distress and helping them resolve their religious or spiritual problems, thus improving their health and adjustment.
4. Enhancing Coping Strategies
Various studies demonstrate that spiritual wellbeing helps persons moderate painful feelings that accompany illness.
CONCLUSION: Persons turn to spiritual resources in the presence of painful feelings and experiences. Professional healthcare chaplains are trained to help patients and families draw upon their spiritual and religious resources to cope with these feelings.
5. Caring for Families
Often, family members experience similar or more intense distress than their hospitalized loved ones. In some studies, patients have indicated that one of the most important chaplaincy functions is helping their family members with feelings associated with illness and hospitalization (Carey, 1973; Carey, 1985)
CONCLUSION: Families rely on religious and spiritual resources to cope with the high levels of distress during a loved one's illness. A chaplain's care for family members has a positive impact.
6. Patient and family satisfaction with the spiritual care provided by chaplains
Studies indicate that as many as 70 percent of patients aware of one or more spiritual needs related to their illness (Fitchett, Burton & Sivan, 1997 Moadel, Morgan, Fatone, Grennan, Carter, Laruffa, Skummy & Dutcher, 1999)
Studies of patients in acute care hospitals indicate that between one third and two thirds of all patients want to receive spiritual care. (Carey, 1985; Fitchett, Meyer & Burton, 2000)