Studies show spiritual care in hospitals related to lower rate of patient deaths

Published: Sep. 24, 2018 at 4:05 PM CDT
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A study published by Baylor University emphasized the effects spiritual care has on medical patients. The study found spiritually-committed patients experienced better recovery from sickness and surgeries.

Debbie DeGroot has been a registered nurse for 31 years. She knows when a patient needs more than just medicine.

"A lot of this is gut instinct that they're going to need some help beyond what medicine does for them, and then I will talk to the primary care nurse and we talk together and work out whether or not a chaplain needs to come and see them," said DeGroot, a Transition Care Nurse for Aurora BayCare in Green Bay.

Aurora BayCare Medical Center is the first non-denominational hospital in the state to receive the "Excellence in Spiritual Care Award" by the Healthcare Chaplaincy Network.

DeGroot says spiritual and emotional care is crucial for healing.

"If you're overly stressed about your medical condition, you're not in any state of mind to be able to keep yourself healthy or get yourself healthy," DeGroot says.

The hospital’s lead chaplain, Renee Lubinski, says medical staff also need spiritual care.

"Medical staff, for example, they work in a highly acute setting and it's stressful, so we add services for them and education for them on things like resilience or compassion fatigue," said Lubinski.

Studies show spiritual care in hospitals is related to a significantly lower rate of patient deaths. In a survey of hospitalized pain patients, the American Pain Society found personal prayer was the most common non-drug method of pain control.

The survey said prayer was used with 76 percent of the patients, more often than intravenous pain medicine, which is used with 66 percent of patients.

"There's actually studies done behind that that spiritual care and emotional support relieves suffering and it relieves pain, anxiety, the fear that the patient may have, and the uncertainties that they may have, by just giving that fear a voice," Lubinski adds.