chapter  3
Patients and Spirituality
Pages 10

Spirituality is a term rich in connotation. For some people it is an expression for an elusive, supernatural concept that cannot be totally grasped. For others it represents another dimension, a world of spirits separate from the world of the five senses. For still others it is a set of concrete beliefs and dogma that represent an ultimate truth that is the basis of everything in this world. For the purposes of this text, the term “spirituality” will be used to mean “a set of beliefs that function to provide meaning to life.”1,2 Spirituality embraces the contrasts of right and wrong, good and evil, sin and forgiveness, as well as the concepts of God and life after death. The underlying assumption of this book is that everyone is “spiritual”; that everyone’s life includes the concept of spirituality in some context. In the medical context, people often express their spirituality by the way they make important medical decisions and by the way they view the meaning of illness in their lives. Patients’ spirituality often includes their religious commitment (see Chapter 2) but extends beyond formal religious beliefs.