Background and objectives: The relationship between spirituality and health is a new frontier in medicine. This study is a preliminary investigation into the relationship between a patient's experience of overall health, physical pain, and intrinsic spirituality.
Methods: We used a stratified, random sample of 462 patients at a family practice residency clinic. The Index of Core Spiritual Experiences (INSPIRIT) measured intrinsic spirituality, and Dartmouth Primary Care Cooperative Charts measured overall health and pain. Pearson correlations tested the association between health, pain, and spirituality. Patient scores on the INSPIRIT were then placed into three groups (high, medium, and low levels of intrinsic spirituality). ANOVA tested for significant differences in health and pain.
Results: We collected information from 442 of the patients surveyed (95%). We found significant correlation between patient health and spirituality. Significant differences were also found in both overall health and physical pain, based on the three levels of spirituality. Gender differences were only significant for overall health, not for patient pain.
Conclusions: Our results suggest an association between intrinsic spirituality and a patient's experience of health and pain. Assessment of spirituality may be important for family physicians to consider as a supplement to patient interviews.