Harvard researchers link spirituality to healthier living and longer lifespan

Spirituality is associated with improved health outcomes and patient care.

According to a study conducted by experts from Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham and Women’s Hospitalspirituality should be integrated into care for serious illnesses and general health.

“This study represents the most rigorous and comprehensive systematic review of the modern health and spiritual literature to date,” said Tracy Balboni, lead author and senior physician at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. and professor of radiation oncology. at Harvard Medical School. “Our findings indicate that attention to spirituality in critical illness and health should be a critical component of future person-centered care, and the findings should stimulate further nationwide discussion and progress on how spirituality can be incorporated into this kind of values-sensitive care.

“Focusing on spirituality in health care means caring for the whole person, not just their illness.”

“Spirituality is important to many patients when thinking about their health,” said Tyler VanderWeele, John L. Loeb and Frances Lehman Loeb Professor of Epidemiology in the Departments of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Harvard Chan School.

The study, which was co-authored by Balboni, VanderWeele and lead author Howard Koh, Harvey V. Fineberg Professor of Public Health Leadership Practice at Harvard Chan School, was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Balboni, VanderWeele and Koh are also co-chairs of the Cross-Faculty Initiative on Health, Spirituality and Religion at Harvard University.

Spirituality is defined as “the manner in which individuals seek ultimate meaning, purpose, connection, value, or transcendence,” according to the International Consensus Conference on Spiritual Care in Health Care. It may involve organized religion, but it also includes ways to discover ultimate meaning through connections with family, community, or nature.

Balboni, VanderWeele, Koh and colleagues reviewed and assessed the highest quality evidence on spirituality in critical illness and health published between January 2000 and April 2022 in their analysis. 371 of the 8,946 critical illness publications met the study’s strict inclusion requirements, as did 6,485 of the 215 health outcome papers.

A Delphi panel, an organized, interdisciplinary group of experts, then assessed the strongest collective evidence and produced consensus implications for health and healthcare.

They noted that for healthy people, participation in the spiritual community – exemplified by attendance at religious services – is associated with a healthier life, including greater longevity, less depression and suicide, and less consumption. of substances. For many patients, spirituality is important and influences key disease outcomes, such as quality of life and medical care decisions. Implications of the consensus included the integration of spirituality considerations as part of patient-centered health care and increased awareness among clinicians and health care professionals of the protective benefits of spiritual community participation.

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Référence : "Spiritualité dans les maladies graves et la santé" par Tracy A. Balboni, MD, MPH, Tyler J. VanderWeele, Ph.D., Stephanie D. Doan-Soares, DrPH, Katelyn NG Long, DrPH, MSc, Betty R. Ferrell, Ph.D., RN, George Fitchett, DMin, Ph.D., Harold G. Koenig, MD, MHSc, Paul A. Bain, Ph.D., MLS, Christina Puchalski, MD, MS, Karen E. Steinhauser, Ph.D., Daniel P. Sulmasy, MD, Ph.D. et Howard K. Koh, MD, MPH, 12 juillet 2022, Journal de l'American Medical Association.
DOI : 10.1001/jama.2022.11086
L'étude a été financée par la Fondation John Templeton.

Harvard researchers link spirituality to healthier living and longer lifespan