The impact of Spirituality on Health

26th July 2022

A recent study published by JAMA, the journal of the American Medical Association, entitled Spirituality in Serious Illness and Health, found new evidence for the benefits of spirituality on our health.

Lead author and professor of oncology at Harvard Medical School, Tracy Balboni said, 

“Our findings indicate that attention to spirituality in serious illness and in health should be a vital part of future whole person-centred care.”

The study, which involved identifying and assessing published articles with evidence addressing spirtuality in serious illness and health, was undertaken by multi-disciplinary panels consisting of clinicians, public health personnel, researchers, health systems leaders, and medical ethicists. 

After studying almost 9000 articles, the panelists proposed three top-ranked implications for the evidence for serious illness*:

1. incorporate spiritual care into care for patients with serious illness;
2. incorporate spiritual care education into training of interdisciplinary teams caring for persons with serious illness; 
3. include specialty practitioners of spiritual care in care of patients with serious illness.

and proposed three top-ranked implications of the evidence for health outcomes:

1. incorporate patient-centered and evidence-based approaches regarding associations of spiritual community with improved patient and population health outcomes; 
2. increase awareness among health professionals of evidence for protective health associations of spiritual community; 
3. recognize spirituality as a social factor associated with health in research, community assessments, and program implementation.

Dr William Bloom, Founder of the Spiritual Companions Trust, looks futher at the benefits identified in this and other studies in his recent blog post and attibutes their achievement to the mind-body connection. He concludes, 

“In summary, the conclusions of the paper are clear: People who describe themselves as spiritual tend to live longer, smoke and drink less, and have better mental health.”  

*Balboni TA, VanderWeele TJ, Doan-Soares SD, et al. Spirituality in Serious Illness and Health. JAMA. 2022;328(2):184–197. doi:10.1001/jama.2022.11086

<< Back to General News