Why Religion & Belief matters to health

A person’s value system, sense of purpose and inner strength, whether resulting from religious or other sources, has been linked to how they respond to illness and treatment. Our approach in NHSGGC focuses on ‘spiritual care’ and ‘spiritual needs’ as outlined in the Spiritual Care Policy. This recognises that all people, whether religious or not, have spiritual needs that may or may not include aspects of formal religion or belief. People will gain comfort and strength to face illness from being allowed to practice their religion while in hospital.

Appropriate recognition of religious practices and preferences, and consideration of the patient’s spiritual needs, are particularly important in the care of the dying and in dealing with the deceased and their family after death. This also has a relevance to the care offered in our Maternity Units at a time of peri-natal or neo-natal death. Consideration of spiritual needs equally applies to people who have a non-religious stance.

Religion and Belief within a health care environment can also impact on

  • Gender and choice of staff;
  • Disclosure of sensitive information;
  • Attitudes towards illness and health practices;

Religious views may also affect the way in which health promotion messages are received and acted upon. Some religious practices, such as not drinking alcohol or vegetarianism, may have positive links to health. Others may affect whether or not certain medications can be taken due to animal/alcohol by-products.


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