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Health Prog. 1998 Mar-Apr;79(2):25-8, 32.

Weaving spirituality into organizational life. Suggestions for processes and programs.

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  • 1Maine-Dartmouth Family Practice Residency, Augusta, ME, USA.


Recent research has demonstrated a clear link between spirituality and health, but it remains a challenge for many organizations to weave spirituality into organizational life and make it an integral component of clinical care. Three dimensions of spirituality work together in healthcare: spiritual well-being of patients and families, spiritual well-being of workers, and spiritual well-being of the organization. To cultivate these dimensions in the life of healthcare organizations, several strategies may be employed. First, the definition of "spirituality" must be clear. Consider spirituality at the core of providing healthcare, instead of parallel to or part of clinical approaches. Separate spirituality from chaplaincy, since nurturing spiritual values is the responsibility of everyone in the organization. It is important to affirm what people already do spiritually, focus on what they have to offer instead of on deficiencies, and cultivate spirituality individual by individual. Organizational leaders must demonstrate spirituality in their personal and professional lives, and keep the organizational mission to the fore. When working to enhance organizational spirituality, create a vision within the organization of its spirituality and emphasize peer support and collaboration. Programs to help organizations inculcate spirituality include retreats or renewal programs for employees, forums to explore employees' spirituality, inclusion of spiritual issues in training and orientation programs, educational and development programs for working groups, regular review of spiritual well-being, training selected employees as spiritual facilitators, and supporting research on spirituality, health, and healthcare.

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