Competence of medical students and residents in psychiatry regarding spirituality, at a South African school of clinical medicine

Int J Psychiatry Med. 2013;45(2):175-88. doi: 10.2190/PM.45.2.f.


Objective: Elsewhere, curricula for undergraduate and postgraduate psychiatry have been extended to include the role of spirituality. It has also become important to establish how, within accepted professional boundaries, spirituality should be incorporated appropriately into the current model for South African practice and training. The objectives included exploring, analyzing, and describing the views and experience of local academic psychiatrists on this topic.

Methods: This study was designed as an explorative, descriptive, phenomenological qualitative investigation. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with individual academic specialist psychiatrists as the primary data source.

Results: Data saturation was achieved after 13 interviews. "Training of spirituality in psychiatry" emerged as one of six main themes from the integrated interview and literature content. All participants proposed that spirituality must be included in undergraduate medical and specialist psychiatric training. They have suggested that a mentorship model should be considered, which implies the reorientation of the teachers of psychiatry in this regard.

Conclusions: This view concurred with the international medical literature, recommending that spirituality has to be incorporated into specialist psychiatric practice and training, but within professional boundaries and with all faith traditions and belief systems considered equally.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Clinical Competence*
  • Cultural Competency / education
  • Curriculum
  • Developing Countries*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Mentors
  • Middle Aged
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Psychiatry / education*
  • South Africa
  • Spirituality*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*