Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

Meaning and R/S (religion and spirituality) in medical healthcare

The project focuses on communication processes regarding spirituality and existential issues in the medical health care in the Netherlands

Elpine de Boer

Dr. Sjaak Korver (Tilburg University)
Dr. Arie Kooijman (Alrijne Ziekenhuis Leiden)

“The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have worked hard to assure that comprehensive mental health promotion and care are scientifically based and, at the same time, compassionate and culturally sensitive. In recent decades, there has been increasing public and academic awareness” of the relevance of spirituality and religion to health issues”. These are the first sentences from the recently formulated WPA Position statement on spirituality and religion (09/2015). A lot of surveys have shown that many patients – from different religious/cultural backgrounds but also with ‘secular’ backgrounds - would like to have their R/S concerns addressed in health care. In addition, several studies have shown that religiosity and spirituality can be associated with better health outcomes (e.g., De Boer & Kooijman, 2014; Körver, 2013). However, religion can also cause harm (ie refusal medical treatment) and generally it is still unclear how to properly address R/S in research and clinical practices (see Best et al, 2015 and see WPA 09/2015). 

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