|Year : 2018 | Volume
| Issue : 4 | Page : 251-252
Spiritual health: Need for its mainstreaming in health-care delivery in India
Chandrakant S Pandav1, Rakesh Kumar2
1 Former President, Indian Public Health Association; Former Head of the Department; Regional Coordinator, Iodine Global Network (South Asia); President, Association for Indian Coalition for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
2 Assistant Professor, Centre for Community Medicine, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
|Date of Web Publication||11-Dec-2018|
Chandrakant S Pandav
Former President, Indian Public Health Association; Former Head of the Department; Regional Coordinator, Iodine Global Network (South Asia); President, Association for Indian Coalition for Control of Iodine Deficiency Disorders, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
|How to cite this article:|
Pandav CS, Kumar R. Spiritual health: Need for its mainstreaming in health-care delivery in India. Indian J Public Health 2018;62:251-2
|How to cite this URL:|
Pandav CS, Kumar R. Spiritual health: Need for its mainstreaming in health-care delivery in India. Indian J Public Health [serial online] 2018 [cited 2019 Nov 16];62:251-2. Available from: http://www.ijph.in/text.asp?2018/62/4/251/247227
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, social and mental well being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Although not included in this definition of health, there has long been a realization that spiritual well-being is a key component of complete health. The WHO in the year 2005, through Bangkok Charter for Health Promotion in a Globalized World, outlined the centrality of spiritual well-being in attainment of highest standards of health. There has been a renewed push to include spiritual well-being in the definition of health. Many commentators in India have also suggested that spiritual well-being should be included in the definition of health as its fourth dimension.,
Spiritual well-being is intricately linked to all three dimensions of health. Although the role of spiritual well-being in social and mental health was already known for long, evidence has been mounting on its importance in physical well-being. Spirituality has shown to achieve better health outcomes and faster recovery and cope with pain and the loss of health of self and near ones. India has gone through a phase of epidemiological transition with noncommunicable diseases becoming more common and contributing to most of the burden of disease and mortality. Most of the noncommunicable diseases can be attributed to lifestyle factors. Spirituality, by bringing in positive changes in lifestyle, can help address the growing burden of noncommunicable diseases. A study in Bhutan found that spirituality reduces the risk of common mental disorders significantly. Studies have found that spirituality may have a role in improving adherence to medication in the treatment of hypertension, and the role of yoga in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure is well documented., Spirituality has been found to be inversely correlated to fatigue and pain in a patient with cancer. In a study in Mumbai, India, spiritual well-being score emerged as a significant primary negative predictor for fatigue scores. Spirituality has also shown to decrease end-of-life despair among terminally ill patients. Spirituality has also shown to empower an individual deal better with bereavement with faster and more complete resolution of grief reported in persons with stronger spiritual beliefs. Considering the positive impact of spiritual well-being in palliative care, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence recommends it to be included as an integral part of cancer care. Spiritual well-being is also found to improve outcome in many other chronic diseases.
In view of the proven role of spiritual well-being in achieving better health outcome, it is important to mainstream it as an integral part of health-care delivery at all levels of care. A study among health-care providers in Northern India found that 55% and 80% of participants appreciated the role of spirituality in preventive and curative care, respectively. A study among physicians from Brazil, Indonesia, and India found that Indian physicians are less likely to discuss spiritual issues with their patients. Role of yoga and meditation in achieving spiritual well-being is well documented. They should be promoted at primary care level in routine health promotion activities by grass-root level workers, and the assessment of spiritual needs must be incorporated in routine curative care, especially among those with chronic diseases.
Although there is an abundance of research which explored the effect of spirituality on health, many of them are hamstrung by the heterogeneity in the definition of spiritual well-being. Besides, the relationship between spirituality and religiosity is also an area of confusion. Authors in India have variously defined spirituality to include inner peace and tranquility, concern for the good of others, and environmental concern as part of spirituality and yoga and other performing arts as an excellent way to achieve spiritual well-being. Others have suggested more formal definition of spirituality and suggested domains such as self-evolution, self-actualization, and transcendence as part of spiritual well-being. However, it is a challenge to define and measure precisely an abstract concept like spiritual well-being, though many scales have been formulated. It is important for organizations such as the WHO to come forward and propose a universally acceptable definition of spiritual well-being and develop measurement scales.
Spiritual well-being is an important, though often under-recognized domain, of health. Spirituality helps in the prevention of many illnesses and predicts better coping with disease and bereavement and has been reported to hasten recovery. Hence, it is suggested that health care providers must be trained in the assessment of spiritual well-being in a culturally appropriate manner and promote activities such as yoga and meditation to prevent many chronic illnesses. In a time, when noncommunicable diseases including psychiatric illnesses have become more common due to lifestyle factors, focus on spiritual well-being is even more pertinent.
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