Spirituality and Healing in Medical Practice

Article excerpt

The religiously active have a markedly better life expectancy, according to a recent study in Health Psychology magazine. In an analysis of 42 studies covering more than 125,000 people, the new survey found that those who regularly attend religious services and rank faith high in their priorities have a 29 percent better chance of living longer.

This was one of many new findings presented at the Spirituality and Healing in Medicine Course in Boston this week. Hosted by Herbert Benson, MD of Harvard Medical Schoool and president of the Mind/Body Medical Institute in Boston, speakers explored the relationship between spirituality and healing in medical practice.

Faith has long been considered the "forgotten factor," says Dr. David Larson, president and primary founder of the National Institute for Healthcare Research (NIHR) in Rockville, Md. Ten percent of patients with serious illnesses have the spirituality factor addressed by their physicians, he says, but 60 to 70 percent would like it addressed. The medical establishment is responding to this demand, and now 72 of the 125 undergraduate medical schools in the US run courses on how to deal with patients' spiritual concerns. …