Integrating Spirituality into Health Care Interventions

Several center faculty have been involved in a series of studies investigating health care providers' attitudes towards spirituality and their practices of integrating spirituality into health interventions. While many professionals have recommended that physicians, nurses and other health care professionals should take a spiritual history with each patient, our work provides the only data we know of on the actual health effects of discussing spiritual issues with patients. Our ongoing series of studies examines a brief spirituality intervention developed by Dr. Jean Kristeller for use by oncologists. Early results with this approach suggested that patients who received the intervention reported improved quality of life, decreased depression, and greater satisfaction with their care. Our current research is focused on replicating and extending the initial findings, including attempting to identify mediators of the effects of the intervention.

Publications and Presentations on Spirituality in Health Care

Kristeller, J., & Johnson, T. J. (2004, March). The care provider’s role in addressing spiritual and religious concerns: Conceptual issues and empirical evidence. Paper presented at the meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Baltimore Maryland.

Kristeller, J., & Rhodes, M. (2002, March). The OASIS Project: Oncologist-Assisted Spirituality Intervention Study. Presented at Spirituality & Healing in Medicine, Salt Lake City.

Kristeller, JL, Zumbrun, C.S., Schilling, R. (1999). “I would if I could”: How oncologists and oncology nurses address spiritual distress in cancer patients. Psycho-Oncology. Special issue on spirituality. 8, 451-458.

Student Dissertations Related to Spirituality and Health Care

Amy Huggins-Rieke (in progress): Causal and existential attributions and the Utilization of Spirituality in HIV Patients. (Dissertation Advisor: Thomas J. Johnson, Ph.D.)

Mark Rhodes (Psy.D., 2000): Effects of Physician-Patient Communication about Spiritual Issues on Patient Adjustment in Cancer Care. (Dissertation Advisor: Jean Kristeller, Ph.D.)

Martine L. Turns (Psy.D., 2000): Psychosocial Concerns in cancer Care: Patient-Physician Perspectives. (Dissertation Advisor: Jean Kristeller, Ph.D.)

Lisa K. Erikson (Psy.D., 1999): An Examination of the Organ Procurement Process: Predictors of Consent/Non-Consent. (Dissertation Advisor: Thomas J. Johnson, Ph.D.)

Andrew M. Davidson (Psy.D., 1994): Conceptualization of the Problem and Rate of Referral Among Future Mental Health and Religious Practitioners. (Dissertation Advisor: Michael J. Murphy, Ph.D.)

Grants on Spirituality in Health Care

"Responding to Cancer: Spiritual Engagement and Spiritual Transformation"
Principal Investigator: Jean Kristeller, Ph.D.
Co-investigators: Virgil Sheets, Ph.D., Tom Johnson, Ph.D., and Betsy Frank, Ph.D.
Agency: John Templeton Foundation.
Status: Awarded pilot funding.
Period: April, 2003 to May, 2004.
Description: A multi-site (with IU School of Medicine and Vanderbilt University) prospective study of the spiritual experiences of individuals in response to a diagnosis of cancer.

"Integrating Spirituality into Palliative Care"
Principal Investigator: B. Givens, R.N.,Ph.D. (Michigan State University)
Co-Investigator: Jean Kristeller, Ph.D.
Agency: Walther Cancer Institute.
Period: July 1, 2000 to June 30, 2003
Description: The overall objective of this study is to investigate the impact of a comprehensive, computer-managed nurse-delivered palliative care intervention for late-stage cancer patients.

"Training Medical Residents and Nurses to Address Spiritual Issues in Seriously Ill Medical Patients"
Principal Investigator: Jean Kristeller, Ph.D.
Co-Principal Investigator: With Lawrence Cripe, M.D. (IU Cancer Center)
Agency: Clarian Health Partners
Period: February 1, 2000 to January 31, 2002
Description: The objective of this pilot study was to investigate the feasibility of integrating a brief provider-delivered spirituality counseling intervention into the curriculum for medical residents and continuing medical education for oncology nurses, to assess impact on attitudes and behavior, and to identify predictors of adoption.

"Brief Oncologist-Delivered Spirituality Counseling"
Principal Investigators. Jean L. Kristeller, Ph.D. & Mark Rhodes, Psy.D. (doctoral thesis)
Agency: Walther Cancer Institute
Period: July 1, 1998 to June 30, 2000
Description: The objective of this randomized clinical study (N=118) was to investigate the acceptability and impact of a brief (5 minute) spirituality counseling delivered by oncologists on the quality of life of cancer patients. Results supported very high levels of acceptance among both patients and oncologists, and significant improvement in quality of life in individuals receiving the intervention 3 weeks later. This data forms the basis of an RO1 proposal to the NCI currently under preparation with Dr. Larry Cripe.