Despite (a) research linking religion, spirituality and health, (b) widespread spiritual needs in medical settings, (c) influences of religious beliefs on medical decision-making, and (d) increased training in medical schools, few physicians assess patient spirituality in clinical practice. In a health system with 100 physicians (N), "The square root of N" concept means that you can change the atmosphere in an entire healthcare system if you can get just 10 physicians on board. This project’s goal is to develop educational media to help integrate spirituality into faith-based healthcare systems in the US, beginning first with the Adventist Health System (AHS). AHS is a faith-based, mission-focused system that is comprised of 44 hospitals, 18 long-term care facilities, and hundreds of outpatient facilities, located in 10 states across the South, Midwest, and Rocky Mountains. AHS has 79,000 employees and nearly 9,000 physicians who practice in the organization. With an annual net revenue of $7.1 billon, AHS is the largest Protestant not-for-profit healthcare system in the U.S. AHS is also probably the most receptive healthcare system in the world for training medical staff to address patients' spiritual needs. Support for the present project comes from the highest levels of administration (Don Jernigan, president and CEO of AHS). We plan to (1) develop five educational videos (45-50 minute CME presentations), (2) use this media to train “spiritual care teams,” (3) pilot this approach in physician outpatient practices, and (4) document effects on the attitudes and behaviors of physicians and practice staff before and after the formation of these teams. The goal is for current AHS employees (physicians in particular) to view the modules developed here for continuing education credit, and for AHS to eventually incorporate this educational media into the routine orientation of employees at all levels.
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