Developing curricula in spirituality and medicine

Acad Med. 1998 Sep;73(9):970-4. doi: 10.1097/00001888-199809000-00015.


In recent years patients and some members of the medical community have expressed the concern that doctors have forgotten about compassion and too often ignore their patients' spiritual concerns. Patients can and should expect their physicians to respect their beliefs and be able to talk with them about spiritual concerns in a respectful and caring manner. Medical schools must teach their students how to meet these expectations, and health care systems need to provide practice environments that foster compassionate caregiving. Medical educators are recognizing the need to bring the art of compassionate caregiving back into the medical school curriculum. This paper focuses on one approach to achieving this goal, the study of spirituality and medicine. The authors discuss the relationship of spirituality and healing, and describe studies that have shown patients' desire to have spiritual issues addressed by their physicians and the potential health benefits of spiritual beliefs. Finally, they describe common elements of the spirituality courses offered by approximately 50 U.S. medical schools, including 19 schools that have been awarded grants from the National Institute for Healthcare Research for the development of curricula in spirituality and medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Curriculum*
  • Education, Medical*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • United States