Significance of the Study
There exists a large segment of the population in the USA that is affiliated to diverse culture and religious ethnicity. In spite of the general population`s attachment with religious dogmas, the domains of social work, mental health care counseling have been unenthusiastic to launch and integrate the religious dogmas in the healthcare curricula, hence the professionals are generally badly-equipped to discuss these issues with the patients. Moreover, the stress on cultural aptitude necessitates the professionals` views, analyses, and recognition of diverse religion which for many groups are interlinked with their cultural values. This paper deals with the effects of Christian beliefs on health care vis-à-vis with other minority cultural and religious beliefs. An evaluation and patient plan is also incorporated in the study.
Healthcare Issues Related to Cultural & Religious Diversity
A large fraction of the US population is adhered to a particular religious orientation. In accordance with the survey, about 50% of people in the USA identify themselves as Protestant, nearly 25% as Catholic, and about 1% as Jewish (Newport, 2011). Many other minority religions together comprised about 3% of the population. Nearly 15% of the population does not show any religious affiliation. Nearly 40-45% of Americans point out that they frequently attend a church (Kosmin & Keysar, 2009).
In spite of the above-mentioned statistics, the domains of healthcare have been unenthusiastic to launch and integrate religion into a professional training program. As a result, the professionals are normally poorly equipped to discuss issues concerning to religion spirituality with the healthcare customers. In a large-scale British survey of 5500 social workers, a large majority believed that spirituality was a vital dimension in human behavior, and almost one-half of the samples believed that exploring religion and spirituality with patients was consistent with the mission of social work. Yet, more than three-quarters of the sample stated that they had minimal to no training in religion and spirituality as part of their education (Furman et al, 2004).
Incorporating Religion into Practice
A lot of analysts think that the need to integrate religious focus into professional practice is founded on the notion of religious pluralism being significant in a diverse society. Gilligan and Furness (2006) claimed that a stress on cultural competency implies that the healthcare professionals should recognize and value how religion is related to the cultural values and belief systems of ethnic groups. This is especially significant as a result of improved globalization and the links of culture and ethnic identity with religion. Likewise, the health professionals claimed that it is within a profession`s ethical directive to take into account the religion since it is a vital aspect of human lives.
To deal with the potential complexities of religious basis may be a significant feature of treating despair and, possibly, other mental and health syndromes. There is a need for research in this field to find out the impact of religious interventions on the general well-being of the patients.
Worthington and Sandage (2001) have recognized many methods by which religion might become an issue in healthcare settings (Worthington & Sandage, 2001). Firstly, a patient might especially ask for therapy that integrates religious aspects and distrusts the professional`s religious background. Alternatively, a patient might ask that religion not be discussed. If the religion is a vital aspect of a patient`s life though this is not clearly expressed, conflicts or misapprehension might create between the healthcare professionals and the patients as regards the treatment method. Such a situation could ultimately dissuade the practitioner from efficiently treating the patients. Finally, religion is generally related to culture. It is significant to understand that patients are a part of a bigger social system. It is not feasible to separate these social dynamics from patients` lives.
Psychiatric disorders & Mental Ailments
Though there is a rising stress on interventions that take a holistic method to mental ailments and working with patients and household towards recovery, some health care professionals have shown apprehension regarding focusing on religion, especially with patients who are treated with critical mental and psychotic syndromes. Since patients with a psychotic syndrome may experience hallucinations with religious issues, tending on religion might intensify symptoms of disorganized thoughts. In addition, firm religious viewpoints accompanied by sin might have the prospects to intensify major despair. An intense version of this is ethical or religious scrupulosity, a fanatical concern with one`s sins and moral behavior. This condition is generally considered to be a type of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Scrupulosity is evident by unwarranted guilt or fixation concerning to religious issues, generally together with extreme ethical or religious adherence. Dealing with this type of disorder is complex, as the healthcare professionals normally feel torn between dealing with the pathology of the disorder and valuing the patient`s religious thoughts.
Nevertheless, there are certainly many people turn to religion in times of stress. A significant number of psychiatric patients noted that religion was their basis of solace (Fitchett et al, 1997). Religion might be thought as a mechanism of social support, positive management and decision making, and prevention of substance misuse. Sometimes, it can optimistically affect psychological welfare. A study of Christian students noted that the augmented prayer rate was linked to an improved level of psychological health regarding the concept of skepticism, which is evident by wildness, disrespect for rationality, improper emotional articulation, and antagonism towards authority personalities (Francis et al, 2008). Corrigan et al. (2003) noted that religiousness lowered psychiatric symptoms, improved overall management of daily routines of life, and improved psychological welfare among those with mental ailments. Other research shows 37,000 people found that higher worship attendance rate was linked with a minor risk for the development of mood, nervousness, and substance misuse syndrome (Baetz et al, 2006).
In sum, as in the field of general health, there are no authoritative conclusions regarding the precise methods or relationships between religion and improvement of mental health results, coping, and psychological welfare. Causal account of this aspect cannot be narrated research studies are required.
Culture & Religiosity
Though many mechanisms implement to assess religion have been created, these mechanisms have been termed by some as Judeo-Christian motivated. As the USA is both culturally different and religiously pluralistic, the part played by culture, race, and customs in the discussion of spirituality and religious values should not be discounted.
Likewise, religion comprises of orderly patterns of beliefs, values, and world views held by groups of persons that affect patterns of behavior. Religion also impacts how social relationships are organized, especially through various practices.
A number of studies point out that the health care professionals who use religious interventions, like discussing religious dogmas, and compassion, are tended to combine them with a conventional therapeutic agenda.
It should be noted that the usefulness of interventions is part of the principled mandate the healthcare professionals should only practice what is expected to generate positive results. If a professional wants to add a religious aspect to interventions with a dejected Christian, the empirical literature should be considered.
Hodge (2006) performed a methodical review of 14 studies studying the effectiveness of cognitive and cognitive-behavioral interventions that comprised of a religious aspect. These researches dealt with 7 dissimilar conditions. Hodge`s study noted that religion and cognitively based interventions in patients could be applied to deal with various problems targeting of diverse groups, namely Christians, Muslims, and Taoists (Hodge, 2006). These interventions have been applied in various countries, and the American analysts especially noted that religiously and cognitively based interventions were successfully applied in the treatment of Christian patients. As well, there were scanty data that religion and cognitively based interventions might also be useful for depression in Muslim patients (Hodge, 2006). Nevertheless, it is notable to study the criteria for deep-rooted, validated programs, as not all of the evidenced-based studies used a true random experimental design with several subjects in diverse groups.
With the aim of providing culturally sensitive services to the culturally and ethnically dissimilar population of the USA, it is vital for the health care professionals to deliberate on the impact of religion on health and mental health care. The relationships between religion and health and mental health results, though by no means ultimate, points out that the professionals should be trained and responsive to the subject. It is not practicable to be wholly religiously blind when practicing in such a diverse multicultural society. Thus, the health professionals should prepare themselves to carry out evaluations of religion and to integrate issues of religion into practice in a principled and culturally proficient way.
Baetz, M., Bowen, R., Jones, G., & Krou-Sengul, T. (2006). How spiritual values and worship attendance relate to psychiatric disorders in the Canadian population. Can J Psychiatry 51 (10): 654-661.
Corrigan, P., McCorkle, B., Schell, B., & Kidder, K. (2003). Religion and spirituality in the lives of people with serious mental illness. Community Ment Health J. 39 (6): 487-499.
Fitchett, G., Burton, L.A., & Sivan, A.B. (1997). The religious needs and resources of psychiatric inpatients. J Nerv Ment Disord 185(5): 320-326.
Francis, L.J., Robbins, M., Lewis, C.A., & Barnes LP. (2008). Prayer and psychological health: a study among sixth-form pupils attending Catholic and Protestant schools in Northern Ireland. Ment Health Religion Cult 11 (1): 85-92.
Furman, L.D., Benson, P.W., Grimwood, C., Canda, E. (2004). Religion and spirituality in social work education and direct practice at the millennium: a survey of UK social workers. Br J Soc Work 34 (6): 767-792.
Gilligan, P., & Furness, S. (2006). The role of religion and spirituality in social work practice: views and experiences of social workers and students. Br J Soc Work 36 (4): 617-637.
Hodge, D.R. (2006). Spiritually modified cognitive therapy: a review of the literature. Soc Work 51 (2): 157-166.
Kosmin, B.A., & Keysar, A. (2009). American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS 2008). Summary Report. Hartford, CT: Trinity College.
Newport, F. (2011). State of the States: Midyear 2009. Religious Identify: States Differ Widely. Available at http://www.gallup.com/poll/122075/Religious-Identity-States-Differ-Widely.aspx. Last accessed March 24. +
Worthington, E.L., & Sandage, S.J. (2001). Religion and spirituality. Psychother Theory Res Pract Training 38 (4): 473-478.