Religion in Health Care System

Religion in Health Care System

Nowadays due to the latest and most progressive technologies it is possible to cure practically any disease and the development of genetics gives us a right to speak about the treatment of even fatal diseases. Nevertheless, medicine despite all innovations, can not explain a lot of illness and syndromes. The appropriate treatment can be chosen only if the doctor knows the roots of the disease and it sometimes creates great problems and slows down the process of treatment. This fact proves that our health is closed connected with the state of our body, but also mind. “In order to understand how healing happens, in the twenty-first century we shall look not only at our atoms and molecules but at consciousness as well. In so doing, we shall reinvent medicine, adding ancient wisdom to modern science. The result will be fabulously more successful-and fulfilling-than science alone” (Koenig, p. 930, 1998). The tendency to secularism in the western countries has both, positive and negative impacts on the modern health care. On the one hand, people being not so religious start paying more attention to the health and do not leave everything in god’s hands but, on the other hand, there is no unification between mind and body in the era of independence and technical progress.
Recent researches have shown that religion and spirituality can be beneficial for people because they control our mind and move it in a particular direction. Nevertheless, at first it is necessary to give some basic data about the health care system in the USA and religion.
The USA belongs to a small number of industrialized countries which do not have universal health care system. Health insurance in the United States can be obtained by several ways. Some people get health insurance through their employers, other purchase it individually. Some part of health insurance is provided by the government. “The US Census Bureau reports that in 2003, 60.4% of the population was covered by employment-based health insurance, 26.6% was covered by government-based insurance, while 15.6% had no health insurance at all” (Uretsky, 2007).
There are three major components, which constitute the American healthcare delivery system. These components are: facilities, practitioners and entities. The healthcare delivery system is made up of hospitals, Ambulatory Surgery centres, Nursing facilities and home health agencies. Some special institutions of the American healthcare delivery system include freestanding substance abuse facilities, hospices and end-stage renal disease centres.
American healthcare is provided by a number of individuals and legal organizations. It consists of ambulatory care, home health care services and private sector outpatient medical care. Ambulatory care is provided inside the medical institutions, such as hospitals and health care centres. Home health care services assume health care, which is provided for the patients, who stay at home. This type of care services mostly consists of nursing enterprises, but physicians also play an important role in this type of services. Private sector outpatient medical care is provided by personal physicians, who work on private basis. A new type of medicine emerged in 1996. This type of medicine is called concierge medicine. This type of service is provided by primary care physicians.
In reality, very often religion manages to give explanation to the questions science can’t explain or came close to only recently. “Theistic belief makes sense of [the existence of intelligent life] and a variety of other kinds of human experience even if it offers no conclusive proof.” (Barbour, p. 64, 1997). Religion deepens inside the inner world of the person, counting on emotions. Due to the peculiarities of religion and health care their combination is possible.
Nowadays doctors should not be good professionals in the medical sphere but should also be psychologists to find the necessary approach to the patient’s heart and make him believe that he should not be afraid of his disease and will live for many, many years. Religion, in its turn, being a spiritual practice, can inspire to be healthy and to fight for their life for the name of God and in particular cases such motivations brings more profit than the most progressive treatments. “We are returning to original beliefs that the mind and body cannot be separate” (Krucoff, p. 211, 2005).
The latest researches state that religious practices and health care should be combined and only in such a way there could be found the most progressive treatment. On practice religion in the health care can be provided in the following way: patients should know that such religious practices, as reading religious texts, praying, laying on hands, exercising yoga or meditating can benefit their health greatly. Religious beliefs can become an important component in the rehabilitation process and heath care providers should be aware of it. “It is also very important that rehabilitation professionals be aware of the different religious customs that should be considered when evaluating and treating patients, including information regarding the appropriateness of physical touching by others, preferences regarding gender specific services, dress and hygiene customs,” (Koenig, p. 926, 1998).
The effectiveness of treatment does not only depend on the medicine taken but also on the psychological state of the person. If the first factor, i.e. kind of treatment and medicine, depends on doctors and health care providers, psychological state of the patient is practically out of control and can be hardly changed. It is often religion that helps people with deadly diseases. They may use religion to get answers on the life questions, accept their condition, prepare for the death and face it. In such cases doctors can do nothing and the only hope is super forces.
However, religious practices can be of great use also for patients with chronic disorders, such as arthritis, traumatic brain injury, stroke and cord injury. “Although many individuals with disabilities turn to religion to help them deal with their situations, to date, religion is infrequently discussed in rehabilitation settings and is rarely investigated in rehabilitation research. To better meet the needs of persons with disabilities, these needs to change” (Koenig, p.931, 1998).
Another case when religion is especially appropriate in the health care system is the treatment of patients who were injured as a result of others’ rude behavior. Religion in this case can contribute to the recovery of the patient through working with the emotions that indicate person’s inner state. Counselors and psychologists should cooperate with chaplains in order to develop principles of forgiveness therapy.
From ancient times religion and health care are closely connected. In the middle ages hospitals were established by different religious communities and spirituality was the leading component in any kind of treatment. Nowadays chaplains, being specialists in the spirituality of treatment and healing, can provide a professional help for patients in the questions of religious needs. The method of treatment which is combined with religion presumes individual approach to the patient and his family, holistic modalities of healing, help in praying and spiritual search and so on.
All the possible advantages of the successful implementation of religious practices in the health care system can not guarantee a successful result. Spirituality itself is beneficial only in combination with appropriate therapeutic and diagnostic modalities. For example, spiritual healing itself is powerless if we deal with cancer. Surgical treatment and professional medical diagnosis are necessary in this case.
On the one hand, religious practices can be very useful in treatment, but on the other hand, the competency of health care providers in this sphere is also extremely important. We have a lot of examples when the impact of religion on minds and feelings of people was negative and had negative consequences. Health care professionals and counselors must be conscious of responsibility they take when they use religious elements in the medical treatment.
“It is also very important that rehabilitation professionals be aware of the different religious customs that should be considered when evaluating and treating patients, including information regarding the appropriateness of physical touching by others, preferences regarding gender specific services, dress and hygiene customs,” (Krucoff, p. 213, 2005).
Another dysfunction in the sphere of religion and health care can be chaplains and physicians’ roles and functions misunderstanding. The physician is the specialist in the medical sphere, while the chaplain is the specialist in spirituality. Chaplains can not diagnose person, prescribe medicine or cure the person. This all is the doctor’s sphere of activity. Only if the counselor or psychologist diagnoses that the patient has spiritual problems and disorders, the chaplain can start working.
To sum up, nowadays there disorders and illness that can not be treated only by the traditional medicine because person requires spiritual help first of all. It is religion that can benefit such patients and become a powerful weapon in the modern health system. The individual approach is very important if we apply religious practices in health treatment and is the guarantee of success. Doctors and chaplains should divide their functions because their have different spheres of responsibilities. Their cooperation can help people to be healthy physically and spiritually.


References
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Idler, Ellen and Stanislav Kasl. (1992). “Religion, Disability, and the Timing of Death.”
American Journal of Sociology 97: 1052-79.
Koenig, Harold and David Larson. (1998). “Use of Hospital Services, Religious Attendance
and Religious Affiliation.” Southern Medical Journal 91: 925-32.
Krucoff, Mitchell. (2005). “Music, Imagery, Touch and Prayer as Adjuncts to Interventional
Cardiac care: the Monitoring and Actualization of Neotic Trainings (Mantra) II Randomized Study.” The Lancet 366: 211-17.
Wise, Donald. (1998). “Creationism’s Geologic Time Scale.” American Scientist 86:160-73.