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Anna Karamazina

26.11.2022 15:00

Treatment is facilitated by acknowledging patients' spiritual and religious convictions

Physicians should remember that most patients appreciate including religion and spirituality in their treatment plan, regardless of whether doctors themselves are religious or believe that religion is a significant part of treatment. The World Health Organization determined in 1995 that patients' spirituality is a significant aspect of their quality of life.

Practitioners may be less able to assist patients if they do not comprehend their patients' religious and spiritual beliefs. The Healing Power of Faith: Science Explores Medicine's Last Great Frontier by Harold G. Koenig, MD, has much documentation on this subject. The book focuses on how traditional religious faith and practice affect physical health and emotional wellbeing and provides empirical evidence that suggests that spirituality and religious beliefs are significant healing factors.

For instance, anecdotal evidence from patients who claim they could not have done it (quit drugs, recovered from sickness or surgery, conquered cancer, etc.) without God's aid abounds in the medical field. Religious persons who have supportive social networks frequently have their illnesses identified sooner, are actively involved in their management, and adhere to medical advice more closely than non-religious people. According to Koenig's research, religious individuals also manage stress effectively, are less likely to experience depression and end up in the hospital, have a stronger immune system, and live longer than nonreligious people.

Strongly religious people tend to abstain from harmful behaviors and lifestyles. This results in much lower levels of various substance-induced illnesses compared to the general population as well as decreased rates of liver disease such as cirrhosis (from alcohol use disorder) and pulmonary disease such as emphysema and lung cancer (related to smoking).

Many medical professionals feel that connecting their patient care to their personal faith enhances their treatment. A JAMA article advised physicians to consider the spiritual dimensions of their profession. The definition of spirituality is "a dynamic and intrinsic aspect of humanity through which persons seek ultimate meaning, purpose, and transcendence, and experience relationship to self, family, others, community, society, nature, and the significant or sacred. Spirituality is expressed through beliefs, values, traditions, and practices."

According to studies, more than half of Americans desire to discuss spiritual health with their doctors. Faith-based medicine helps many patients develop closer relationships with their doctors and offers solace in the face of chronic illnesses, chronic pain, and addiction. Nowadays, a lot of doctors integrate their beliefs in their bedside style. Physicians must be mindful of situations when patients are uncomfortable discussing religion and exercise caution to avoid proselytizing or forcing their ideas on patients.

Internal medicine specialist Francisco Rosario, MD, has been practicing in New York for more than 20 years. Incorporating the spiritual into medical, including praying with patients, is the new trend, according to him. Despite enormous advancements in medical science, the practice of medicine is still an art because it requires trust in God (or whichever god or spiritual essence you believe in).

Although many doctors think having religious devotion is good as a personal value, they have kept religion apart from their work because they think it is wrong to combine the two. This way of thinking is a result of the out-of-date notion that one's religious views should not affect how they get basic medical care and that patients and medical authorities do not expect doctors to combine their personal beliefs with their professional practices. However, doctors are finding that ethos to be less and less intellectually and spiritually gratifying. They have come to understand that the best of what science and religion have to offer may be combined to maximize health and wellbeing.

There is a well-known "Gates of Heaven" tale about a man who drowned, which goes as follows.

A man got stranded in a flood on his rooftop. He was asking God for assistance. Soon after, a man in a rowboat passed by, calling out to the man on the roof to get in so he could save him. The lost man responded by shouting, "No, it's OK. I'm praying to God, and he will rescue me." The rowboat continued, so.

A motorboat then passed by.  "Jump in; I can save you," yelled the man in the speedboat. The lost guy said, "No thanks, I'm praying to God, and he will save me. I believe in God."  The motorboat then continued.

"Grab this rope, and I will bring you to safety," the helicopter's pilot yelled down as it passed. The lost guy once more said, "No thanks, I'm praying to God, and he will save me. I believe in God." As a result, the chopper took off unwillingly.

The man drowned as soon as the water level climbed above the rooftop. He ascended into heaven. When the guy finally had an opportunity to talk to God about the matter, he screamed, "I had trust in you, but you didn't save me. You let me sink. I'm baffled as to why. God said, "I gave you a helicopter, a motorboat, and a rowboat. What else did you anticipate?"

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