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August 8, 2017

Health and Spirituality

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 4Harvard Kennedy School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
JAMA. 2017;318(6):519-520. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.8136

For centuries, physicians and other healers have witnessed how illness focuses attention on “ultimate meaning, purpose, and transcendence, and … relationship to self, family, others, community, society, nature, and the significant or sacred.”1 Patients often discover strength and solace in their spirituality, both informally through deeper connections with family and friends, and formally through religious communities and practices. However, modern day clinicians regularly overlook dimensions of spirituality when considering the health of others—or even themselves.