Spirituality Positively Affects Those With Terminal Illness
Medicine and the dimension of spirituality were before bounded apart from each other in terms of belief, specifically in the field of science. As a universal practice, the field of medicine functions as a single dimension, focusing on the medical model of seeking the causes and solutions from scientific perspectives. Until recently, however, many patients of terminal illnesses such as cancer and heart disease have claimed the correlation of their religion and faith in sustaining their hope to recover from illnesses. This assertion has caught the attention of diverse health professions and lead to conduction of research and studies in the analysis of religion or spirituality as element in medical process.
This paper aims to explore the assertions and idea of spirituality as being able to help in the healing process of terminally ill patients. The recognition of values of elements such as faith and religion by both patients and doctors is one of the essential aspects of this study's research and analysis. Embodying in this study the idea and claims of patients who obtained positive outcomes is an essential step taken in finding the role that lies under spirituality in the medical process.
In the United States, a survey on religiosity has been conducted and was indicated by Gallup in his report as the follows (McCormick, 1998).
Surveys of the U.S. public in the Gallup Report consistently show a high prevalence of belief in God (95%) while 84% claim that religion is important to their lives. Approximately 40% of Americans attend religious services at least once a week.
The result of Gallup's survey shows that religiosity plays a major part in the lives of many Americans. Hence, it is no wonder for previous research and studies to find a high prevalence of spirituality in patients within the context of medicine. Another survey, conducted by Maugans, with patients and physicians as the respondents, the following report provides consistency of outcomes in the subject of spirituality within medicine.
One survey in Vermont involving 115 family physicians and 135 patients showed that 91% of the patients reported belief in God as compared with 64% of the physicians.
Spirituality or religious commitment has been found in previous studies and research as an essential component in healing and treatment procedures. Based from previous clinical analysis, this study finds assertions from patients of the positive consequences religious commitment brings. The review of literatures and related research has revealed that medical authorities are not completely acknowledging spirituality in their field of service. Some physicians find that there is a contrasting perspective between spirituality and medical science. However, despite of this, studies also reveal that physicians consider ethical practice in favor of the terminally ill patients.
Many patients of terminal diseases have attested to the subject that spirituality causes positive effects on them. Even physicians have revealed that there were terminally ill patients who demonstrated positive outlooks due to religious commitment. As part of this study's theme, an analysis and research on the part of patients and medical authorities' perspectives on spirituality and medicine is included.
Several studies and research have provided systematic examination and analysis on the positive effects of spirituality on terminally ill patients. Many of which have carried the conclusion that religion or spirituality is an essential alternative aspect in healing the sick. This has been supported by surveys, conducted on patients and medical professionals, showing the significance of religious commitment on health.
Along with the perspectives of available studies and research on the relationship of spirituality and medicine, this paper aims to explore the hypothesis that spirituality positively affects those with terminal illness. In recent medical experiences, spirituality, having to cause positive outcomes to many patients, was defined as an element in decreasing the struggles of pain, depression, and other symptoms of diverse illnesses. Previous studies have found and suggest that strong sense of faith, hope, and commitment to religion provides beneficial factors in the treatment of terminally ill patients.
The assessment of embracing religion as a relative associate in treatment of illnesses may allow more information that is essential in medicine. Many patients have claimed that commitment to their religion have provided them with sense of hope and faith to recover from disease. Among medical practitioners on the other hand, the opinion and belief on the effects of spirituality are divided. Some have suggested the relevance of religious commitment as an added and alternative treatment to patients. Others, on the contrary, who oppose on the belief of healing through faith, rely on the scientific views of science.
As part of this paper's research on the effects of spirituality to patients as integrated in medical process, the increasing recognition of spiritual beliefs by both patients and medical professions as an essential element in terms of healing and medical process will be analyzed. One literature states the following report from the World Health Organization on the subject of spirituality and medicine.
The World Health Organization reports: "Until recently the health professions have largely followed a medical model, which seeks to treat patients by focusing on medicines and surgery, and gives less importance to beliefs and to faith - in healing, in the physician, and in the doctor-patient relationship. This reductionist or mechanic view of patients is no longer satisfactory. Patients and physicians have begun to realize the value of elements such as faith, hope, and compassion in the healing process.
As declared by patients and medical professionals, some of the aspects affected by religious faith, aside from the physical conditions of the patients, are the psychological and behavioral factors of patients. Clinical occurrences such as depression, stress, anxiety, and other behavioral disorders were found to significantly decrease on patients of terminal diseases who devote to their religion.
It is essential to study and analyze the manifestation of advantages or disadvantages that spirituality suggests to patients and doctors. This study includes research on this subject in its aim to determine and prove the hypothesis that spirituality positively affects patients of terminal illness.
Medical authorities are still uncertain on the importance and relevance of spirituality in health.
Thus, leading to many studies and research being conducted to test and prove the claims of many patients, as this study aims to review.
Review of Literature
Spiritual value in medical field has been an essential factor in many recent occurrences among terminally ill patients. Patients with illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, and heart diseas have disclosed statements complimenting their religious faith as a major element in obtaining strength and hope against the ill health conditions that they suffer from.
Not until faith and religion were claimed to have boost patients' hope, strength, and positive outlooks despite of ill sicknesses, the field of medicine was a large technical manual of science, of anatomical study of the human body, and of scientific reasoning and solutions. Very rare do medical professions attach spirituality in the treatment process of terminally ill patients. Medicine and religion were before infinitely bounded by the subjects that they cover - medicine is to science, while religion is to spirituality. Both are separated in terms of viewpoints and reasoning.
As patients however started to assert the positive effects of their religious commitment, specifically the terminally ill patients, in their struggle from diseases, diverse research and studies were conducted by medical authorities in an aim of furthering the capabilities of medical science as associated to spirituality. Previous research and studies have used the claims of patients as the focus of analysis in determining the effect of spirituality in the healing or treatment process of terminal diseases.
Indicated from one study, the article Spirituality and Clinical Care states the percentage of patients who were helped by religious commitment.
In one study, 93% of patients with cancer said that religion helped sustain their hopes.
The very high percentage of such assertion, claiming the positive effects of spirituality in terminal diseases, provides evidence to its beneficial aspects. The same article also indicates the general finding of almost 2000 research and studies on the subject of spirituality and medicine. It states that 60-80% relation between better health and religion or spirituality is found in both correlational and longitudinal studies covering heart disease, hypertension, cerbrovascular disease,
According to the study, spirituality or religious commitment provides threefold benefits which are aiding prevention, speeding recovery, and fostering equanimity in the face of ill health
In previous research and studies, the necessary aspects of analysis were conducted on patients through interviews and questionnaires. This helped many medical researches in surveying the details and finding the results based on the narrative method of relating experiences of the patients.
Spirituality and faith in religion is becoming a recognized factor to both patients and doctors in medical procedures. Although the subject still addresses issues to some, many studies and preliminary researches carry the result of high prevalence of effectiveness of spirituality to patients. When illness comes, spirituality is one of the therapeutic approaches taken by patients especially in events of a…