London: When there is little hope, meaning and purpose in a patient's life, spirituality plays a key role in the patient's recovery from illness, finds a fascinating study.
"Spirituality and the practitioners' approach to their patients play a huge part in recovery from illness," said Melanie Rogers, senior lecturer and advanced nurse practitioner at the University of Huddersfield.
However, spirituality is intensely practical.
"It helps sustain health care workers and patients by recognising and supporting a sense of meaning and purpose in life. It can improve resilience in patients and practitioners alike, in addition to improving the experience of illness and crisis in patients," she added.
She acknowledges that for some people, spirituality derives from religious beliefs.
"But for many others it stems from factors such as their relationships, community connections and special interests," Rogers added.
Patients can lose optimism but the doctor needs to try and facilitate it.
"One way is to spend time listening to the patient - being fully present and engaged in the relationship. Spirituality is about the patient being the focus," Rogers maintained.
Although spirituality is gaining increasing recognition, it is still not spread evenly across the spectrum of health care.
"Occupational therapy has taken a lead and there is growing amount of evidence in the fields of mental health and palliative care but many of the other disciplines struggle to know how to integrate it into their care," Rogers added.
Her recent article titled "Health care lecturers’ perceptions of spirituality in education” appeared in the leading journal Nursing Standard.