Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Personal View

Medicine: a partnership of trust and faith

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: (Published 17 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1452
  1. Rabbi Richard F Address
  1. 1New Jersey, USA
  1. rfaddress{at}

Rabbi Richard Address argues the importance of the spiritual dimension to healthcare

In my experience as a clergy person for four plus decades there has been an increase in interest regarding the relationship between spirituality and medicine. My sense is that, as medical science increases its ability to tell us how something has happened, there has been a complementary rise on the part of individuals to seek the “why.” This search for meaning and purpose in illness, as old as the Book of Job, underlies the distinct human story that is present in each and every human being that a physician treats. No two people are alike, and no two stories are alike. Each person brings their own experience, history, and family dynamic to the doctor’s office, seeking an answer to the why of their illness. Individuals stand before God in their own way and in their own belief.

We are at an age where the role of spirituality as a component in the medical treatment of illness is about to enter a new and enriched phase of development. Rather than seeing these two issues as separate and distinct, a quiet movement is occurring that sees elements in each system that, when understood and honored, can be beneficial to a person and to their healing. This latter belief is important because we all have had experience with people who have not been cured, but who have been healed; healed in a sense of facing their end in peace and with a sense of wholeness.

Increasingly, university centers have been created to study this issue, and there are a growing …

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