Spirituality is a complex part of human life, which has cognitive or philosophic aspects (search for meaning and purpose in life, beliefs and values) and experiential or emotional aspects (feelings of love, connection, inner peace and comfort). It can be religious, but it also can be non-religious. It includes beliefs, practices and experiences that help us feel connected to something bigger than ourselves, whether that is God, nature or our community. It also involves a sense of connection to other people, other humans or animals. It can be a practice like prayer, meditation or yoga, but it also can be experiences like quiet reflection or time spent in nature.
For some people, spirituality is a core part of their identity, and it influences their daily lives in important ways. This is especially true for patients living with HIV and those coping with chronic illness, where spirituality may increase feelings of hope, support and connection. It can be helpful for patients to incorporate a spiritual component into their mental health treatment, which has been shown to decrease depression and anxiety and improve quality of life.
There are many different definitions of spirituality, but most healthcare professionals define it as a set of beliefs and practices that promote connection to something greater than yourself. This article reviews the literature on the definition of spirituality in healthcare, identifies its main dimensions and proposes a framework that operationalizes the understanding of this concept.