Objectives: Understanding the role of religion and spirituality is significant for psychiatric practice. Implementation of formal education and training on religious and spiritual issues, however, is lacking. Few psychiatric residencies offer mandatory courses or evaluation of course utility. The authors present findings from a pilot study of a course on the interface between spirituality, religion, and psychiatry. Course objectives were to increase both residents' understanding of clinically relevant spiritual/religious issues and their comfort in addressing these issues in their clinical work.
Methods: A 6-hour mandatory course was implemented for third- and fourth-year psychiatry residents at the University of British Columbia. Teaching sessions consisted of didactic and case-based modules delivered by multidisciplinary faculty. The Course Impact Questionnaire, a 20-item Likert scale, was used to assess six areas: personal spiritual attitudes, professional practice attitudes, transpersonal psychiatry, competency, attitude change toward religion and spirituality, and change in practice patterns. A pre/post study design was used with the questionnaire being administered at week 0, week 6, and 6 months follow-up to two groups of residents (N=30). Qualitative feedback was elicited through written comments.
Results: The results from this pilot study showed that there was increased knowledge and skill base for residents who participated in the sessions. Paired t test analysis indicated a statistically significant difference between the pre- and postsession scale for competency. No other statistically significant differences were found for the other components.
Conclusion: The findings suggest improvement in the competency scores for residents and overall usefulness of this course; however, limited conclusions can be made due to a small sample size and lack of adequate comparison groups. Establishing educational significance will require gathering larger usable control data as well as validation of the Course Impact Questionnaire tool to distinguish between different skill levels.