Integrating Religion and Spirituality into Clinical Practice: The Beliefs and Practices of Health Professionals’ in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

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Addis Ababa University


This study has explored the beliefs and practices of health professionals on integrating religion and spirituality into clinical practice. It has aimed to analyze health professionals’ definitions of religion and spirituality, the ways in which they address religious and spiritual needs of their clients, their beliefs on whether religion and spirituality should be integrated and the challenges that they encounter in integrating religion and spirituality into clinical practice. To meet this objective, the study has utilized the qualitative description design which has helped generate a summarized description of participants’ experience on the matter. The health professionals who participated came from the fields of nursing, social work, psychology, psychiatry, and medicine with various specializations. The data was collected using a semi-structured in-depth interview and then using thematic analysis. Accordingly, the study has found that the health professionals define religion as an organized system of beliefs which involve specific doctrines, institutions, practices, and rituals. On the other hand, spirituality was defined in terms of personal adherence to one’s religion or aspects of life which relates to a person’s development in life, passions of pursuit, and ways in which people build relationships. The participants believe that religion and spirituality play an integral role in the individual’s well-being. Accordingly, it was found that they encourage their clients to use their religious beliefs and practices along with modern medical remedies. Fanaticism, sensitivity of the topic, and inclusivity were identified as factors which hinder the integration of religion and spirituality into clinical practices. The health professionals also reflected different opinions on issues such as provision of spiritual care, religion and spirituality in health education, and professional’s refusal of service based on religious reasons. The paper concludes by discussing the findings with existing literature and presenting their implications for social work practice, policy, research, and education. Keywords: Clinical Practice, Integrated Practice, Health care, Religion and Spirituality



Clinical Practice, Integrated Practice, Health care, Religion and Spirituality