Religion, spirituality and health: how should Australia's medical professionals respond?

Hedley G Peach
Med J Aust 2003; 178 (2): 86-88.


  • Greater participation in religious activities is associated with better health outcomes.

  • In the US, most inpatients have religious needs, but physicians address them only occasionally and infrequently refer patients to clergy.

  • US medical students are learning to do spiritual assessments and integrate the findings into patient management, which may reverse this.

  • Religion does not play a central role in the lives of Australians as it does for US citizens.

  • Research is required to better understand the spirituality of Australians, its relationship to health and the benefit, cost and acceptability of doctors enquiring into spirituality compared with spiritual advisers and counsellors.

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  • Hedley G Peach

  • Ballarat Health Services, Ballarat, VIC.


Competing interests:

None identified.

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