Spirituality and Holistic Healthcare

The Ochsner Health System supports holistic healthcare by providing the education and support necessary to keep people healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Ochsner understands that healing and well-being are enhanced by bringing the wisdom of science and reason together with compassionate care and spiritual support.

Holistic health professionals attempt to care for the whole person and not merely the part of the person—the illness. They recognize that illness has the power to change not only the person being treated, but also his or her family members, friends, and, ultimately, the treatment providers. For this reason, enlightened medical professionals not only talk about the mechanics of disease and treatment of an illness with the patient, family members, and caregivers, but also attempt to integrate the healing that comes from compassionate care. Consequently, illness and its treatment demand a radical look at all aspects of one’s lifestyle, including spirituality and faith. Sharing the experience of illness and healing takes the patient and medical professional, willing or not, into the realm of spirituality.

Understanding and practicing compassionate care are imperative. Researchers and scholars now widely recognize that incorporating spirituality assists both the patient and the caregiver in the acceptance of all that is involved in the treatment process.

Several major academic hospital systems have established institutes for the study of religion, health, and spirituality. For example, George Washington University has developed the Institute for Spirituality and Health and Duke University has developed the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health. Through scientific research, these institutions and many others have begun to find evidence for the positive relationship among religious behavior, spirituality, and well-being. One result of these research efforts is the development of spiritual competencies that health systems can implement.

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