Religion, spirituality, and chaplains in the biomedical literature: 1965-2000

Int J Psychiatry Med. 2003;33(2):155-61. doi: 10.2190/B0H1-38QG-7PLG-6Q4V.


In recent years, several prominent medical journals have published articles addressing the relationship between religion/spirituality and medicine, and recognizing the importance of religion in the lives of most Americans, especially in times of illness. We hypothesized that the publication of these articles reflected a trend in the biomedical literature in which greater attention is being given to the role of religion and spirituality in health-care. A correlational design was used, based on an electronic survey of all articles in MEDLINE for the years 1965 through 2000. The search terms used were: 1) religion or religious; 2) spiritual; and 3) chaplain. The number of articles per 100,000 that mentioned religion (religion or religious), spirituality, or chaplains each year was determined. Statistically significant upward trends across years were found for the rates of articles addressing religion (r = .59, p < .001) and spirituality (r = .89, p < .001) and a non-significant trend was found for chaplains (r = .31). The rising rates of articles on religion and spirituality in biomedical journals suggest a growing recognition of the need to address spiritual and religious issues in health-care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Clergy*
  • Humans
  • Publishing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Religion*
  • Spirituality*