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Book and Media Reviews
April 2, 2008

Spirituality in Patient Care: Why, How, When, and What

JAMA. 2008;299(13):1608-1609. doi:10.1001/jama.299.13.1608

Although many health professionals are uncomfortable with anyone other than a chaplain or clergyperson performing a spiritual history and assessment of a patient, the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations requires that a spiritual assessment be made for each patient admitted to an acute care hospital or a nursing home or seen by a home health agency. Furthermore, this spiritual assessment must be documented in the medical record. At a minimum, this includes the patient's denomination, beliefs, and any spiritual practices important to the patient, especially in light of the current illness or condition. Since roughly only 20% of patients see a chaplain but all see their health professionals, this screening might serve the other 80% by acknowledging their spiritual needs and addressing them directly or by a referral.