Spirituality in Undergraduate Medicine Curricula: a Brief Review

Main Article Content

Yasmin Hartung
Lowell Henriques
Joyce Nyhof-Young


spirituality, spiritual care, spiritual well-being, spirituality and undergraduate medical education, medical students


Addressing patients’ spiritual needs has been identified as key to improving patient well-being and survival when facing illness and receiving care.(1) In addition, physicians’ spirituality has been found to have an impact on how they practice and deliver care.(2) This article examines the evidence and beneficial outcomes associated with the provision of effective spiritual care, briefly discusses the skills medical students can acquire when learning about the spiritual dimension of care, provides an overview of the key components identified relating to spirituality and undergraduate medical education, and offers recommendations for medical school courses on spirituality.
This paper is based on a review of literature selected from two medical databases that discuss spirituality in medicine broadly and, more specifically, spirituality in undergraduate medicine curricula. Results from a keyword search were limited by date of publication (2001-2011) and language—articles in English were chosen, which effectively limited results to literature from Canada, the United States, and United Kingdom. Several articles published before the selection dates were also included due to their relevancy. A review of grey literature was also completed.
Taken together, the literature shows a growing consensus regarding the importance of integrating spirituality into the medicine curriculum in order to significantly improve the physical and mental well-being of both physician and patient.