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Indian Journal of Community Medicine

Value of Spiritual Dimension in Health Care System of Chandigarh, Union Territory

Author(s): N. K. Goel, M.K. Sharma, M. Kalia, G. Kaur, R. Kumar, Kanwalpreet, H.M. Swami

Vol. 31, No. 4 (2006-10 - 2006-12)

N. K. Goel, M.K. Sharma, M. Kalia, G. Kaur, R. Kumar, Kanwalpreet, H.M. Swami

Introduction

“If man had lived the life of good, his interiors would be open to heaven and through heaven to the lord, thus also the smallest and invisible vessels would be open and man would be without disease.” The WHO at its 37th world health assembly has added the spiritual dimension to the health. The recognition to this dimension speaks of the importance of multidimensional well being of swasthya1. Out of more than 1200 studies of religious and health reported, two third have shown significant association between religious activity, better mental health and better physical health.

Spiritual health has been defined as that part of the individual, which reaches out and strives for meaning and purpose in life. It includes integrity, principles and ethics, the purpose in life, commitment to some higher being and belief in concepts that are not subject to “State of the Art” explanation2.

The spiritual health characterizes the understanding and awareness that all earthly endeavour and accomplishments are for a season only, including all the efforts spent on achieving optional physical health. Although many studies have been conducted world over, highlighting the importance of spiritual aspect in the total well being of an individual but very few studies have been conducted in India and none in Chandigarh.

Material and Methods

This cross-sectional study was carried out in Govt. Medical College and Hospital, Sector 32, General Hospital, Sector 16, Chandigarh and Community Health Centre, Manimajra. The opinion of 450 health professionals i.e. 225 doctors and other 225 paramedical personnels (who deal with patients in their day to day practice) was sought. Data was collected using a pretested and predesigned questionnaire. A trained team of medical social worker, Intern, Medical Officer and Demonstrator led by first author (NKG) collected data by distributing the proforma to the doctors and paramedical personnels. The proformas were collected within the stipulated period of 15 days. The response rate was only 33.33% despite repeated reminders and three personal visits. Finally the sample size consisted 150 health persannels i.e. 75 doctors and 75 paramedicals and the names of participants were kept confidential. The data was entered in the computer and analysed.

Result

The analysis revealed that 53 (35.34%) out of 150 participants believed very strongly about the existence of spiritual dimension in health. 54 (36.67%) of the participants were strongly in favour of the existence of spiritual dimension, But 12 (8%) of the participants were of the view that there is very little or no existence of the spiritual dimension.

Out of 75 doctors, only 18 (24%) put the spiritual dimension as first priority for health and 12(16%) of paramedical personnels think the same. Majority of the participants 67 (44.67%) put the physical dimension as the first priority and 78 (52%) social dimension as last priority for health (Table-I).

Table I. Priority of Significance Attached to Various Dimension (N =150)

Dimension Priority-I II III IV
  No. % No. % No. % No. %
Physical
Doctors 39 52.0 18 24.0 11 14.6 07 9.3
Paramedical
Personnel
28 37.3 2.3 30.6 13 20.0 09 12.0
Mental
Doctors 27 36.0 39 52.0 05 6.6 04 5.3
Paramedical
Personnel
29 38.6 27 36.0 13 17.3 06 8.0
Spiritual
Doctors 18 24.0 07 9.3 18 24.0 32 42.6
Paramedical
Personnel
12 16.0 10 13.3 18 24.0 35 46.6
Social
Doctors 04 5.3 05 6.0 21 28.0 45 60.0
Paramedical
Personnel
02 2.6 08 10.6 32 42.6 33 44.0

63 (84%) of the doctors and 53 (70.66%) of the paramedical think that a non religion person can be spiritual and almost 108 (72%) of participants were of the view that religiousness can lead to spirituality. 45 (60%) doctors and 53 (70.66%) paramedical personnels believe that there is no relation between religiousness and spirituality.

Almost 93 (62%) of health professionals think that spiritually healthy person (SHP) can cope with illness in a better way. Majority of the participants 71 (94.66%) doctors and 68 (90.67%) paramedical personnels believe that SHP can even deal better with stress. 66 (44%) doctors and 68 (90.66%) paramedical personnels think that SHP can face death better. 135 (90%) of the participants believe that spiritually healthy person recover faster from illness and 55 (73.33%) doctors and 59 (78.66%) paramedical personnel believes that such person falls ill less frequently (Table II).

Table II. Adaptibility of a Spiritually Healthy Person (n =150)

Question Asked In
Aggrement
Not in
Aggrement
Not Sure
Whether No. % No. % No. %
Copes better with illeness
Doctors 55 73.34 14 18.66 06 8.00
Paramedical
Personnel
38 50.66 30 40.00 07 9.34
Deals better with stress
Doctors 71 94.66 03 4.00 01 1.34
Paramedical
Personnel
68 90.67 05 6.67 02 2.66
Can face/ deal with, death better
Doctors 66 88.00 05 6.66 04 5.34
Paramedical
Personnel
68 90.66 04 5.34 03 4.00
Recovers faster from illness
Doctors 65 86.67 06 8.00 04 5.33
Paramedical
Personnel
70 93.3 04 5.33 01 -
Falls ill less frequently
Doctors 55 73.33 11 14.67 09 12.00
Paramedical
Personnel
59 78.66 06 8.00 10 13.34

Discussion

Out of the 150 health personnels 72.4% believe strongly to very strongly in the existence of the spiritual dimension. Only 12 (8%) o the participants did not feel the spiritual dimension important for health, This is comparable to the study in USA where 70% of the physicians felt that spiritual dimension is important in terminally ill patients, as well as all subjects whether healthy or diseased3,4. Another study depicts that 96% of physicians believe that spiritual well being is important for health4.

18 (24%) of the participating doctors and 12 (16%) of the paramedical personnels felt that spiritual dimension is the first priority in the maintenance of health. While 62 (49.33%) of participants opine the physical dimension as first priority for the health. This finding is similar to the findings of the other studies4,5. which shows strong corelation between health and spirituality.

Majority of the participants i.e.55 (73.34%) doctors and 38 (50.66%) paramedicals are of the opinion that spiritually healthy person can cope better with illness. It is comparable to the study conducted in North Uttar Pradesh and Delhi by Dr. Rahul Bansal (Unpublished) where 90% of the doctors felt the same. 95% of the participants believe that stress can be dealt better by the spiritually healthy person. 75% of the studies conducted show a positive association between spirituality and prevention of illness including depression and substance abuse5

Our findings show that 86.67% doctors and 93.33% paramedical personnels believe that spiritual dimension is important in the faster recovery of the patient and 75% of the participants think that spiritually healthy persons have less chances of falling ill. It is similar to the study in North UP and Delhi where 76.4% of physicians felt that spiritually healthy person recover faster and 55% think that such persons fell ill less freauently.

The opinion poll from this study shows that spiritual dimension of health plays an important role in overall well being of people. It should not be neglected at any cost. Orientation training progamme may be organised to sensitize2 all kinds of health professionals regarding spiritual dimension of health.

References

  1. Introduction to spiritual health http:/website.lineone.net/~ newthought/shah 17,htm.
  2. “Eberst, R.M. Journal of School Health 1984, 54 (3)99-104,
  3. Mc Nichol T. The new fourth in medicine. USA Today April 7, 1996, Vol. 4.
  4. Aggarwal KK. Spiritual well being: The evidence and the need to have it as a part of our practice: Ind. J. Clinical practice, 2003, 14: 3.
  5. Eilis MR, Vison DC and Ewigman B, Addressing spiritual concerns of patients: J Fam. Prac. 1999;48:105-109.

Deptt. of Community Medicine, Govt. Medical College, Chandigarh.
E-mail: [email protected]
Received: 17.6.05

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