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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Study highlights spiritual needs

Updated: Jun 1, 2023


A study of patients in Denmark suggests that spiritual concerns remain important to patients — and might currently be neglected by healthcare professionals, according to a report in the Church Times.


The article states that the study, which is published in the medical journal The Lancet Regional Health (Europe), is described as ‘a challenge to those who assume that “faith is dead” in our modern world’ in an independent commentary by Dr Andrew Tomkins, a member of the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Health, the Christian Medical Fellowship UK and the International Christian Medical and Dental Association.


Dr Tomkins continues: ‘It has important implications for all governments and healthcare workers with responsibility for planning health services for those facing serious or terminal illness.


‘It might be uncomfortable for secular health planners to admit that spiritual care is widely wished for, could be provided in forms which provide helpful support for patients coping with illness or impending death, and may even be clinically effective. But whose interests are more important ­— our patients’ welfare, or our own preconceptions?’


The Danish study was the largest study of spiritual needs to date in Denmark. It was based on a random population-based sample of 104,137 adults (aged 18 or above), 26,678 of whom responded. Of these, 19,507 (81.9%) reported at least one strong or very strong spiritual need in the past month.


It is suggested that ‘small changes — such as taking a spiritual history in a clinical setting — could make a significant difference to patients. This approach can then lead to referrals to a spiritual-care specialist if needed. It is also important to understand that spiritual care can be provided despite the providers’ personal beliefs (religious, spiritual, atheist, etc.) and whether the provider shares the same beliefs as their patient or not.’


 


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