Importance of Spirituality

An essential part of the palliative care team.

By Mary Frances Baldes
Importance of Spirituality
Spiritual care is an essential component of palliative care.  In fact, there is growing evidence that spiritual support in the face of a life-threatening illness is a critical element of whole-person care and that patients want the health care system to provide it.  There is also evidence that a lack of spiritual support by health care teams is associated with poor quality of life, dissatisfaction with care, less hospice utilization, more aggressive treatment, and increased costs. Despite this emerging evidence and its status as an essential aspect of palliative care, spiritual care remains the least developed and most neglected dimension of palliative care.

“It always seemed to me that health care is one of the most spiritually rich places in our society,” said Allison Kestenbaum. “When people are experiencing the transitions of life, whether it’s birth or death or everything in between, they are asking questions about meaning, about relationships, about all the things that are important to them.”

Watch Sojourns Scholar, Alison Kestenbaum, a chaplain who supervises the Clinical Pastoral Education program at UC San Diego and her Sojourns Advisor Tina Picchi discuss the importance and benefits of spiritual care in the treatment of people with serious illness and their caregivers.  In addition, find out about recent initiatives being established to accelerate the integration of spiritual support into palliative care research and clinical care.