Concerns about measuring "spirituality" in research.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

Spirituality is increasingly being examined as a construct related to mental and physical health. The definition of spirituality, however, has been changing. Traditionally, spirituality was used to describe the deeply religious person, but it has now expanded to include the superficially religious person, the religious seeker, the seeker of well-being and happiness, and the completely secular person. Instruments used to measure spirituality reflect this trend. These measures are heavily contaminated with questions assessing positive character traits or mental health: optimism, forgiveness, gratitude, meaning and purpose in life, peacefulness, harmony, and general well-being. Spirituality, measured by indicators of good mental health, is found to be correlated with good mental health. This research has been reported in some of the world's top medical journals. Such associations are meaningless and tautological. Either spirituality should be defined and measured in traditional terms as a unique, uncontaminated construct, or it should be eliminated from use in academic research.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Koenig, HG

Published Date

  • May 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 196 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 349 - 355

PubMed ID

  • 18477877

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1539-736X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1097/NMD.0b013e31816ff796


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States