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Doctors encouraged to talk about spirituality with their patients

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Posted at 2:57 PM, Jul 29, 2022

Medical professionals are being encouraged to talk about spirituality with their patients.

The push follows a study from researchers at Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

It observed cases of spiritual people living healthier and longer lives.

Researchers say knowing more about a person's beliefs can help provide better care for them.

“I remember one patient who was very much had his spirituality was found in nature, and he was going to home hospice,” said Dr. Tracy Balboni, who co-authored the study. "We discussed with his family maybe moving the location of his bedroom, which they did, to a place where he could actually be close to family and who were in the house and then also have a big window looking out on his garden and the woods."

Researchers said the information gleaned from conversations can also help point patients to spiritual care specialists, such as chaplains.

“Overlooking spirituality leaves patients feeling disconnected from the health care system and the clinicians trying to care for them,” said senior study author Howard Koh. “Integrating spirituality into care can help each person have a better chance of reaching complete well-being and their highest attainable standard of health.”