Many people describe “faith” in different ways. However, many studies indicate patients of all faiths tend to utilize familiar components such as meditation and prayer, as well as the patient’s own perspective on how their personal culture and tradition affect their care. Simply put, a person’s faith, religion, or spirituality can be a critical component in their healing process. Although different religions may have differing views on providing care, one thing remains the same. All things being equal, people of “faith” tend to heal faster.
This paper will explore three different religions and compare the differing philosophies they present as it relates to faith and healing. The paper will address each faith individually and compare any differences to the Christian faith. Spiritual Diversity in Healthcare The healthcare industry is comprised of medical providers from diverse backgrounds, nationalities, and faiths. Due to the nature of their profession, these professionals are often faced with caring for patients that are also from diverse backgrounds.
This paper will address three of those different faiths and compare their philosophies regarding healing through culturally competent care. It is critical for health care providers to put aside their own religious and cultural beliefs and be sensitive to the needs of their patients. Healthcare providers, “speak a different language filled with medical terminology, and our understanding and beliefs regarding health and illness can differ greatly from the population we serve” (Wintz & Coope, 2009). A healthcare provider can provide culturally competent care by accommodating, promoting and encourage healing by utilizing their patient’s faith.
This may consist of an assortment of components such as meditation, prayer and the patient’s own perspective on how they would like to receive their care. A person’s faith, religion, or spirituality is very important in the healing process. In fact, studies have shown that accommodating and respecting patient beliefs actually promotes and encourages the healing process. “Approximately seventy-nine percent of Americans believe that praying can help people recover from illness, injury or disease,’ and nearly seventy-seven percent of American patients would like spiritual issues discussed as part of their care” (Tovino, 2005).
Different religions may or may not have similar views on providing care. Although some may be similar, all faiths practice religion in disparate ways. “Many medical doctors report people with a religious faith sometimes heal faster than those without. This is most often attributed to their attitude of hope and optimism” (Caldwell, 2003). Faith can be defined as “something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially: a system of religious beliefs” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2013). Healthcare professionals have the responsibility to treat and care for their patients mind, body and spirit.
The medical profession is one that encompasses an interdisciplinary approach. It is vital this approach is sensitive to a person’s cultural and spiritual needs. In order to do this, health care professionals need to have the knowledge and skills to be able to handle the culturally sensitive needs of all their patients. The foundation of the Baha’i faith is the belief that humanity is one single race. “True health extends beyond the physical and encompasses the emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical well-being of individuals and communities” (Baha’i International Community, 2013).
Members of the Baha’i faith are encouraged to obtain medical care. It is the desire of the Baha’i members to have their dignity and spiritual needs supported whenever possible. The critical factors of healing are through the power of prayer and through the power of science combined. According to Baha’i International Community (2013), prayer is encouraged daily and it is believed that sickness can be healed through the power of prayer and the use of medicine. In the Baha’i faith, there are no clergy members. Therefore, any individual within the local Baha’i community can give spiritual support or prayer.
The governing council may also give support. Devotional symbols, such as photographs of the prophet founder, his sons, their faith shrines, or holy places can be present in the room. It is common holy books are read to an ill Baha’i member. Just as the Baha’i have symbols of faith to aid in healing or prayer, the Christian faith uses the cross as a devotional symbol. The Christians, unlike the Baha’i, have clergy members who also support and pray for them. The Buddhist believes that a person’s mind is “non-physical, formless, shapeless, colorless, genderless” (Hawter 1995). The mind is compared to sun in a clear sky.
Sickness is seen as temporary and is compared to clouds that block the sun. They believe that the causes of illness or sickness can be removed by the mind. The mind is the mastermind or controller of all their problems. It is believed to heal an illness; the person has to be involved in positive actions and thoughts. To prevent illness, the person needs to clear all negative karmic impressions they may have to prevent health consequences. Prayer, meditation, and rituals are all critical components in healing for the Buddhist. In addition, the Buddhist uses medications that are “blessed. (Hawter, 1995) Ultimately, it is believed if the cause of the disease is healed, you will also heal the mind. In modern medicine, physicians believe there is a physical cause to an illness.
Because this is in such sharp contrast to what the Buddhist believes, it would be imperative to first collaborate with the patient, and secondly a Tibetan physician/healer to ensure the patients spiritual needs are met. Buddhism has no belief in a “God,” whereas Christians do believe in a God. Christians believe in the power to pray to a divinity to heal, whereas Buddhists believe a person’s mind is the cornerstone to healing a person of their illness. Hawter, 1995) People of the Sikhism faith believe “there is only One God. He is the same God for all people of all religions” (Sikhs. org, 2011). During times of illness, Sikhs believe in the power of prayer to ask God for help and forgiveness.
They also listen and repeat the words from scripture because they believe this will give them both spiritual and physical strength. Sikhs view illness as the will of God, and believe the person needs to make an effort and seek treatment to get well. To promote comfort and healing, Sikhism may want Keertan music to be played at their bedside.
Sikhs feel it is essential for healthcare providers to be sensitive to the patients needs and to care for those needs beyond the medical aspects. (SikhWomen. com, 2001) Similarly, in the Christian faith, it is also believed there is only one God. In addition, Christians believe, he has a son, Jesus Christ. Christians also have a strong belief in the power of prayer and reading scriptures. (Health care in relation to faith diversity. 2012) This paper addressed the role of faith as it relates to three distinct religions around the world. It compared and contrasted similarities and differences among them.
One fact remains the same. Each and every person, regardless of their culture, religious, or ethnic backgrounds, desires to have their needs met with respect and dignity. There are a variety of cultures with varied beliefs on healing. These beliefs may dictate certain practices that may need to be addressed in order to maintain a person’s total health. Healthcare professionals must be culturally sensitive to these diverse needs by respecting differences and incorporating each unique practice and belief into the patient’s plan of care. In so doing, the healthcare provider creates an ideal environment conducive to healing.