Clinical implications of spirituality to mental health: review of evidence and practical guidelines

Braz J Psychiatry. 2014 Apr-Jun;36(2):176-82. doi: 10.1590/1516-4446-2013-1255.


Objective: Despite empirical evidence of a relationship between religiosity/spirituality (R/S) and mental health and recommendations by professional associations that these research findings be integrated into clinical practice, application of this knowledge in the clinic remains a challenge. This paper reviews the current state of the evidence and provides evidence-based guidelines for spiritual assessment and for integration of R/S into mental health treatment.

Methods: PubMed searches of relevant terms yielded 1,109 papers. We selected empirical studies and reviews that addressed assessment of R/S in clinical practice.

Results: The most widely acknowledged and agreed-upon application of R/S to clinical practice is the need to take a spiritual history (SH), which may improve patient compliance, satisfaction with care, and health outcomes. We found 25 instruments for SH collection, several of which were validated and of good clinical utility.

Conclusions: This paper provides practical guidelines for spiritual assessment and integration thereof into mental health treatment, as well as suggestions for future research on the topic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Mental Health*
  • Needs Assessment
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic*
  • Spirituality*
  • Treatment Outcome