Spirituality in medical school curricula: findings from a national survey.
OBJECTIVE: No systematic information exists on what U.S. medical schools are teaching on spirituality and health or on the attitudes of faculty toward inclusion of this subject in the medical curriculum. We systematically surveyed U.S. medical school deans and assessed both attitudes about and the extent to which spirituality is addressed in medical school curricula. METHODS: The responses to a questionnaire were solicited from deans representing 122 U.S. medical schools accredited by the Liaison Committee for Medical Education. Completed surveys were received from 85% (n = 104), with 94% (n = 115) responding to the primary question. Outcomes were proportion of medical schools with curricular content on spirituality and attitudes of deans toward such material. RESULTS: Ninety percent (range 84%-90%) of medical schools have courses or content on spirituality and health (S&H), 73% with content in required courses addressing other topics and 7% with a required course dedicated to S&H. Although over 90% indicate that patients emphasize spirituality in their coping and health care, only 39% say that including S&H is important. When asked if their institution needs more S&H curricular content, 43% indicated they did; however, even if funding and training support were available, only 25% would open additional curricular time. National policy statements, established competencies, or methods to evaluate student competencies in S&H were generally considered unimportant. CONCLUSIONS: Most U.S. medical schools have curricular content on S&H, although this varies greatly in scope. Despite acknowledging its importance to patients, the majority of deans are uncertain about including spirituality and do not think more content is needed.
Koenig, HG; Hooten, EG; Lindsay-Calkins, E; Meador, KG
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