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Book and Media Reviews
July 4, 2012

The Soul of Medicine: Spiritual Perspectives and Clinical Practice

Author Affiliations

Book and Media Reviews Section Editor: John L. Zeller, MD, PhD, Contributing Editor.

Author Affiliations: Divisions of Pediatric Inpatient Medicine and Medical Ethics and Humanities, University of Utah School of Medicine, Salt Lake City (armand.antommaria@hsc.utah.edu).

JAMA. 2012;308(1):87. doi:10.1001/jama.308.1.87

The Soul of Medicine is a textbook for the courses in medicine and spirituality that have proliferated in US medical schools in the last 2 decades. Its primary focus is the relationships between religion and contemporary medicine and between spirituality and professionalism. However, the text addresses the other objectives of medicine and spirituality courses with less detail and rigor, and the discussion often ignores trainees' learning needs.

The text comprises 3 parts. The first part provides context by discussing the history of the interconnection between medicine and spirituality as well as the clinical relevance of spirituality. The second part describes 9 traditions, including each tradition's understandings of the transcendent and of illness and healing as well as its relationship to contemporary medical practice. The authors are clinicians who also describe how they address spirituality in their practices. The third part addresses ethical issues, chaplains' roles, and the development of courses in spirituality and medicine.

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