Spirituality/Medicine Interface Project

Religion, Spirituality and Medicine: The Beginning of a New Era

Authors: Harold G. Koenig, MD


This issue of The Southern Medical Journal inaugurates the Journal’s Spirituality/Medicine Interface Project. The project is crucial because it represents the first time that a mainstream professional medical journal has attempted to systematically examine both the positive and negative effects of religiosity/spirituality on health and health care delivery. The topic of religion, spirituality and medicine makes many physicians nervous, and with good reason. Already overwhelmed with clinical responsibilities, clinicians are reluctant to consider taking on additional responsibilities in terms of spiritual assessment or intervention. Many do not understand why they should take precious time to address these issues, do not know how or when to address them, are uncertain of what to do with this information, or are uncomfortable about delving into such a personal aspect of patients’ lives.1 The appropriateness of physician involvement has also been debated.2,3

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