Medical student beliefs: spirituality's relationship to health and place in the medical school curriculum

Med Teach. 2006 Dec;28(8):702-7. doi: 10.1080/01421590601047680.


The relationship between spirituality and health is receiving increased attention; consequently medical schools have begun asking how and in what manner these issues should be addressed in medical education. Unfortunately, student beliefs concerning spirituality and health have not been adequately assessed. This study examined medical student beliefs regarding the relationship between spirituality and health and the level of instruction spirituality should receive in the curriculum. Questionnaire results from 254 medical students indicated that religiousness and spirituality are important, with spirituality more important than religiousness. Spiritual practices were seen as more helpful for acute and mental health conditions than for chronic or terminal conditions and believed to be more helpful for coping with a health condition than healing tissue. Students believed that patients could benefit from spiritual practices more than they could for their own health conditions. Most students endorsed a lecture or one- to two-week seminar with instruction in the first or second year of medical school. Student spirituality was the only predictor of required level of instruction in the medical school curriculum.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical, Undergraduate / standards*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Spirituality*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires