Commentary | Clinician's Corner

Medicine, Spirituality, and Patient Care

Pat Fosarelli, MD, DMin
JAMA. 2008;300(7):836-838. doi:10.1001/jama.300.7.836.
Text Size: A A A
Published online


As a physician and pastoral theologian, and in my role as a teacher of medical, nursing, chaplaincy, and theology students, I am often asked (especially when speaking about the needs of seriously ill and dying patients), “Is spiritual care always an important part of medical care? If yes, who should assess the need for it?”

Quiz Ref IDReligion is defined as “the service and worship of God or the supernatural; a personal set or institutionalized system of religious attitudes, beliefs, and practices”; and spirituality is defined as “the quality or state of being spiritual” (with spiritual meaning “of or relating to sacred matters”).1 In most individuals' estimation, religion tends to be associated with formal practices and rules that connect a person to the sacred. Because spirituality is not usually based on human-made laws of reason or logic, it is often described as the nonlogical or nonrational part of being human that connects to the sacred—God, the Ultimate, or Universal Principle (depending on the belief system). For many persons, however, religion and spirituality are one and the same, as one's spiritual practices frequently flow from the religion espoused by the person. However, in experiences filled with the presence of the holy (numinous), the spiritual transcends ordinary human experiences.

Sign In to Access Full Content

Don't have Access?

Register and get free email Table of Contents alerts, saved searches, PowerPoint downloads, CME quizzes, and more

Subscribe for full-text access to content from 1998 forward and a host of useful features

Activate your current subscription (AMA members and current subscribers)

Purchase Online Access to this article for 24 hours

First Page Preview

View Large
First page PDF preview





You need to register in order to view this quiz.
Citing articles are presented as examples only. In non-demo SCM6 implementation, integration with CrossRef’s "Cited By" API will populate this tab (http://www.crossref.org/citedby.html).


Some tools below are only available to our subscribers or users with an online account.

Web of Science® Times Cited: 6

Sign In to Access Full Content

Related Content

Customize your page view by dragging & repositioning the boxes below.

Articles Related By Topic
Related Topics
PubMed Articles