Spirituality can boost health and well-being: Researchers

More attention on spirituality may lead to improved health and well-being in patients, according to a new article from researchers.

The new Health Affairs article pointed to evidence-based recommendations on how spirituality can be addressed during serious illness and in health. The Harvard-affiliated researchers said that some factors of spirituality can boost health outcomes in patients, citing previous studies.

“The growing body of robust, empirical research strongly links spiritual beliefs, states of being, communal practices, and private rituals to a range of beneficial health outcomes including lower all-cause mortality. This has led some public health scholars to call spirituality and religion determinants of health,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers also wrote how faith-based communities and organizations could partner with health care providers to help connect patients with the care they need. The article states that those faith-based communities can “serve as bridges to resources related to other social determinants of health,” like where people live and work.

The researchers included a series of recommendations in their article for how to integrate spirituality and health care, including increasing education of “basic spiritual and religious literacy” in training for health care settings. They also recommend strengthening relationships between health care leaders and those in spiritual communities.

The article said that the recommendations outlined are just a “starting point” into how they can weave together spirituality and the clinical health system. The article said public health practices should look into new ways they can “recognize spiritual determinants of health as a vital dimension, and extension, of whole-person, whole-community well-being.”

“In a reimagined clinical and public health system, spiritual factors would be routinely considered in creating person- and community-centered policy and practice,” the researchers wrote.

“Although the intersections between spirituality and well-being have existed through millennia, a compelling body of empirical research currently allows policy makers to learn from and build on numerous contemporary models of integrated health policies and practices,” they wrote in their conclusion.

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