Primary author: Yinka Atoyebi

Spirituality and religious belief plays vital role in treatments outcome among patients seeking medical care. While spirituality is more individualistic and self determined religion typically involves connections to a community with shared beliefs and ritual (Curlin et al, 2004). Spirituality can be broadly defined as that which gives a transcendence meaning to life and central to human experience. It includes the internal, personal and emotional expression of the sacred and is measured by assessing the spiritual well-being, peace and comfort derived from faith (Kudel I et al, 2010). In broader sense, it is the tool use by the believers faced with uncertain health future in coping with the reality of health treatments that defied medical therapies.

Several studies have shown positive association of high quality of health outcome and health management with high level of spirituality. Study conducted among men who are diagnose of prostate cancer, who generally considered the diagnosis as a death sentence due to severe side effects that come with the treatments therapy found spirituality inclined patients to have a better coping strategy with the disease and its management compare to non spiritual patients (Maliski et al, 2008). A similar study conducted among HIV patients in which 45% of the participants reported increase in level of spirituality found spiritual patients to have improved cortisol and CD4+ counts (Kudel I et al 2010). Spirituality is therefore important in holistic treatment. It gives patients opportunity to reassess situation from perspective of personal faith and belief. It also boosts individual optimism of treatment outcome as they focus on their faith and belief for survival rather than drug therapy.
Another way Spirituality contributes to positive health outcome is that it encourages healthy lifestyles. Most religion and spiritual doctrine are known to forbid lifestyles and activities prone to ill-health. These activities include consumption of alcohol, cigarette smoking and illicit drug use. These lifestyles have significantly contributed to increasing ill-health outcome such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, lung cancer and other chronic diseases facing public health sector today.
Furthermore, increase in popularity of spirituality has been noticed among low socioeconomic population. This is seen among other things, as a mean of coping with daily life struggles and as alternative when healthcare coverage is a barrier (Reyes-Ortiz et al 2009). This can be an important avenue to propagate health intervention for health issues such as obesity and cardiovascular disease that is common among low socio economic population. Spiritual sect and religious group are generally belief in one another and also, respect the command of their spiritual leaders. Therefore, health intervention that receive the blessing of spiritual head and focus on the population will no doubt enjoy better participation and yield a positive health outcome among the population.
In conclusion, the impact of spirituality on healthy living cannot be over emphasized. It boosts believer’s efficacy of recovery from illness and also, encourages lifestyles that enhances healthy living. For those that face with uncertain health issue, it put to rest the inner conflict that might arise from such medically hopeless situation.
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