Integrating spirituality into patient care: An essential element of person-centered care

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Polskie Archiwum Medycyny Wewnetrznej








Medical education; Person-centered care; Spiritual care; Spirituality and health


Spirituality and health is a growing field of healthcare. It grew out of courses in spirituality and health developed for medical students in the United States. Research in this area over the last 30 years has also formed an evidence base for spirituality and health. Studies have demonstrated an association between spiritual beliefs and values and a variety of healthcare outcomes. More recent research has also shown a strong desire on the part of patients to have their spirituality addressed as part of their care. Studies also show that spiritual care has an impact on patient decision making, particularly in end-of-life care. The Association of American Medical Colleges developed a broad definition of spirituality as well as learning objectives and guidelines for teaching. Standards in organizations such as the American College of Physicians support physicians treating the whole person, that is, the body, mind, and spirit. In 2009, National Competencies in Spirituality and Health education were developed in the United States with schools currently working on curriculum projects based on these competencies. Models are being developed for all members of the healthcare team to address patient distress, in cooperation with chaplains as spiritual care experts. The goals are to develop a biopsychosocial and spiritual assessment and treatment as part of compassionate whole-person care of all patients. © 2013 Copyright by Medycyna Praktyczna, Kraków.