Religion, spirituality, and consultation-liaison psychiatry


Book Section

© Cambridge University Press 2009. SUMMARY Religious beliefs and practices play an important role in enabling medical patients to cope with disability, dependency, fear, loss of control, and unpleasant medical symptoms. Besides influencing the development and course of emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety, religion can play a role in a host of other psychiatric conditions that mental health professionals are likely to encounter in medical settings, including somatization, agitation, behavioral problems, and substance abuse. In each of these conditions, religion can serve as either a resource or a liability. Religious beliefs may facilitate psychiatric care, or alternatively, conflict and interfere with it. For these reasons, and to provide culturally sensitive care, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals need to understand how religion can influence the onset, course, and treatment of conditions for which medical physicians are likely to consult them. In this chapter, I describe research on and case examples of how religion can influence patients' mental health. I also provide recommendations on how to take a religious/spiritual history, what to do with this information, and when pastoral care collaboration or referral is necessary. Given the wide prevalence of religious beliefs and behaviors in medical patients, and their potential impact on both mental health and medical prognosis, it is essential that clinicians consulting on these patients be informed. Consultation-liaison psychiatry is growing rapidly and will continue to do so as our populations age, chronic illness increases, and persons with acute medical problems are hospitalized or treated in outpatient settings.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Koenig, HG

Published Date

  • January 1, 2009

Book Title

  • Religion and Spirituality in Psychiatry

Start / End Page

  • 190 - 214

International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)

  • 9780521889520

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/CBO9780511576843.014

Citation Source

  • Scopus