Medicine and Spirituality
Flavio Burgarella*, Sarah Burgarella*
* Heart Friends Around The World (HFATW), Via S. Orsola 5, 24122 Bergamo, Italy
Spirituality is a complex and interdisciplinary part of the human experience. It includes aspects both philosophical and inherent to emotional behaviour. Philosophical aspects include the search for the person’s sense of the purpose and truth of life, and for beliefs and values in which he/she lives. Aspects of emotional behaviour include a sense of hope, love and belonging, of inner peace and consolation. Establishing a positive relationship between doctor and patient is crucial to discuss spiritual issues, and allocating the appropriate time to the matter is very important too.
The evaluation of the spiritual resources of the patient may be manifested in the anamnestic debate and the initial conversation and may open the way for more in-depth interviews. During this evaluation of spirituality, issues like the fear of the unknown and the search for hope are important items with which the patient is compared to his/her spiritual dimension. Doctors can begin to incorporate spirituality into medical practice by studying the problem scientifically, applying the techniques for the assessment of spirituality, and by therapeutic intervention. Scientific studies include the evaluation of the connection between spirituality and health and the planning of further studies to clarify its effects. It is always important to keep the mind open to new ways of learning, considering that there will be always things that cannot be understood. Therapeutic interventions include considerations on the spirituality of the patient and recommendations on prevention, health education, treatment and anything that might help the healing process. Although it is not easy to measure, the physician’s ability to provide the necessary compassion and connection, so that the patient can feel the doctor truly present and participating, is an important therapeutic intervention. Medicine can make a significant contribution to the integration between Science and Spirituality.