Health Care and Faith Diversity

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Health Care And Faith Diversity: Final Draft

America is made up of many different ethnic groups and associated with many of these groups are different religions or spiritual practices. As the primary care giver to patients, nurses are in a unique position to provide care that incorporates the spiritual or religious beliefs of each individual. Nurses recognize the importance of incorporating the spiritual or religious beliefs of patients in their care. A study of 4,000 nurses indicated that nurses understand meeting patients’ spiritual needs is extremely important and can improve the overall quality of nursing care. However, only 5% felt they achieved this goal (Funning, 2010). The inability to achieve this goal is likely comprised of many variables, not the least of which is a lack of understanding of other spiritual or religious practices. Spiritual or religious beliefs have shown time and again to have a positive influence on the health and healing of people. Recognition and incorporation of an individual’s spiritual or religious practices can assist in establishing an environment that is conducive to healing. This paper reviews some of Christianity’s basic beliefs in comparison to three less mainstream faith systems. It will describe each faith’s perspective on healing, causes of illness, and practices related to healing. In closing, the author will summarize her personal beliefs related to spirituality in the health care setting.

Nurses should to remember that individual beliefs and views on spirituality and religion are generated from each individual’s unique life experience (Maurer & Smith, 2009). An assessment of a patient’s spiritual needs is a cherished communication that provides nurses with valuable information necessary in order to provide excellent patient care. Performing a comprehensive spiritual assessment demonstrates respect and dignity for each patient and their personal beliefs. It can even promote positive outcomes for patients.

In America, 78.4% of the adult population states an affiliated with a Christian religion. These affiliations include Mormon, Catholic, Orthodox Christians and Protestant. The other 21.6% of the American adult population is composed of people who have no faith affiliation at all (approximately 16%) and those practicing non-Christian faiths (The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 2007).

Sikhism preaches a devotion and remembrance of God at all times, honest living, and human equality. The Sikh tradition emphasizes the mindfulness of one’s mortality, shifting of one’s intrinsic goals, engendering humility, adjustment of priorities, experience of present moment, intimacy in relationships, and an innate sense of gratitude, openness and optimism (Transcultura Uraguay, n.d.). Suffering (dukha) and non-suffering (sukha) are viewed as two sides of the same coin. Illness can cause anxiety and fear and is addressed through meditation and ethical selfless service towards existence. Christianity shares a deep devotion for God, much like Sikhism. Some of the morals and values that Sikhs practice are those that Christians share as well. The Sikh traditions of being humble, grateful, and open are common themes of the Christian faith as well.

According to the Sikh religion, healing involves a holistic approach to the recognition of the spiritual self and involves consciously experiencing the five realms. These realms include righteousness, wisdom, effort, grace, and truth or true nature. It is common practice for Sikhs not to cut their hair. The hair of Sikh patients should not be removed from any part of their body without consent from them or their substitute decision-maker; this is generally a family member. Sikhs believe that hair is a gift from God and that if it is a gift, one should not give it away by cutting it. They believe cutting hair place stress on the body since...
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