A Holistic Approach to Healthcare
A Holistic Approach to Healthcare: Recognizing the Significance of Spirituality in Hispanic Communities
by Caleb Obregón
It is a well-known fact that healthcare providers are trained to address the physical and mental health needs of their patients. However, one crucial aspect of care is often overlooked: spirituality. Spiritual practices and beliefs play a significant role in the daily lives and overall well-being of many Hispanic individuals and families. Therefore, it is critically important for healthcare providers to recognize and address the spiritual needs of their Hispanic patients. In this article, we will explore the importance of spiritual care for Hispanic communities and provide insights on how patients can better integrate spiritual care into their healthcare.
According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, 60% of Hispanic adults in the United States consider religion to be very important in their lives, with an additional 24% stating that it is somewhat important (1). Incorporating spiritual care into routine health visits can help patients feel more comfortable, connected, and supported. Furthermore, studies have shown that spirituality can improve mental health and well-being, regardless of religious affiliation(2). It can help individuals cope with stress, find meaning and purpose in life, and cultivate a sense of connection with others.
One way patients can prioritize their spiritual well-being is by communicating their spiritual beliefs to their healthcare providers. Seeking out culturally and spiritually sensitive providers or eliciting emotional support from chaplains or other religious leaders for guidance and comfort during illness and distress can also be helpful. Research has shown that patients who receive spiritual care from chaplains experience reduced anxiety, depression, and pain, as well as improved spiritual well-being(3). Healthcare providers can also encourage patients to express their spiritual beliefs and practices during hospital stays and incorporate spiritual practices such as meditation or prayer into the patient’s daily routine.
To further support patients, providers can connect them with local faith-based organizations or religious communities for additional support and resources. This can help patients feel more connected to their community and provide them with a sense of belonging.
Incorporating spiritual care into healthcare is essential for providing holistic care to all patients, especially in the Hispanic community where spirituality and religious beliefs often play a significant role. By recognizing the importance of spirituality in healthcare, we can all create a more supportive, connected, and patient-centered approach to care.
1. Pew Research Center. (2014). The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/religion/2014/05/07/the-shifting-religious-identity-of-latinos-in-the-united-states/
2. Koenig, H. G. (2015). Religion, spirituality, and health: A review and update. Advances in Mind-Body Medicine, 29(3), 19-26.
3. Puchalski, C. M., Vitillo, R., Hull, S. K., & Reller, N. (2014). Improving the spiritual dimension of whole person care: reaching national and international consensus. Journal of palliative medicine, 17(6), 642-656.
Caleb Obregón was born and raised in Orlando, FL, to parents who emigrated from Nicaragua. Growing up bilingual, Caleb became fascinated by the intersection of language and culture. He attended Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN, where he completed his BS in Molecular Biology. During his undergraduate years, Caleb volunteered at Siloam Health as a Spanish interpreter, which opened his eyes to the importance of holistic care. Inspired by this experience, he decided to pursue a career in medicine and is currently attending the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (URSMD). In medical school, Caleb has started researching the impact of chaplaincy on ethics consults in the Neuromedicine ICU, which continues to fuel his passion for exploring the spiritual dimensions of healthcare.
Photo of woman praying by Karolina Grabowska and photo of flower bouquet and rosary by Tamilles Esposito