Research Topic

Spirituality and Mental Health: Exploring the Meanings of the Term 'Spiritual'

About this Research Topic

Through the last decades, the spiritual dimension of patients has progressively gained more relevance in healthcare. As proved by consistent scientific research, there is a positive and causal association between spiritual wellbeing and good parameters of physical and mental health. Mainly through stress reduction, it modulates psycho-neuro-immune-endocrine pathways and balances neurovegetative functions. In addition, organic and psychological changes are documented in acts of prayer, forgiveness, gratitude, contemplation, sacred rituals, and blessings.

On one hand, spiritual coping, the faith-related efforts to positively face threatening situations, may be a valuable resource of wellbeing. On the other hand, the spiritual struggle may adversely affect the course of treatment by worsening stress. Therefore, involvement with spiritual values of the patient is of paramount importance for high standard healthcare training and clinical practice.

Despite the above background, the term 'spiritual' remains an open, fluid concept and, for health purposes, no definition of spirituality is universally accepted. Besides, some concepts may work well in clinical practice, but not so well for research purposes. More recently, 'secular' forms of spirituality arose from rationalistic and humanistic worldviews, liberal values, and analytic thinking about what a meaningful life is. For example, 'Spiritual-but-not-religious' is an increasingly popular self-designated faith affiliation, although they form a heterogeneous population. The realm of 'spiritual' can also encompass empirical views on anomalous phenomena.

Health professionals and researchers have the challenge to cover the entire spectrum of the spiritual level in their practice. This is particularly difficult because most healthcare courses do not prepare their graduates in this field. They also need to face acts of prejudice by their peers or their managers.

This Research Topic aspires for papers exploring the intersections between spirituality and healthcare in all their manifestations, either secular or religious ones, alongside their consequent clinical implications.

The collected material may provide a didactic beginning for practitioners or scholars involved in health or behavioural sciences. The vision of this article collection is to advance the acceptance of the patient’s spiritual dimension importance by healthcare professionals, treatment institutions, and government policies.

We welcome contributions including (but not limited to) the following areas:
• Bio-psycho-social-spiritual model of health;
• Definitions of spirituality in healthcare;
• Neurophysiological and cognitive-behavioural correlates;
• Religious-spiritual wellbeing and health;
• Secular-humanistic and ‘spiritual but not religious’ presentations;
• Spiritual coping - positive and negative forms;
• Integration of spiritual support in clinical settings;
• Faith-related approaches in healthcare;
• Anomalous phenomena of consciousness with spiritual content;
• The future role of spirituality in healthcare.


Keywords: spirituality, religiosity, faith, humanism, secularism, healthcare, health, wellbeing, holistic approach, patient-centrism


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Through the last decades, the spiritual dimension of patients has progressively gained more relevance in healthcare. As proved by consistent scientific research, there is a positive and causal association between spiritual wellbeing and good parameters of physical and mental health. Mainly through stress reduction, it modulates psycho-neuro-immune-endocrine pathways and balances neurovegetative functions. In addition, organic and psychological changes are documented in acts of prayer, forgiveness, gratitude, contemplation, sacred rituals, and blessings.

On one hand, spiritual coping, the faith-related efforts to positively face threatening situations, may be a valuable resource of wellbeing. On the other hand, the spiritual struggle may adversely affect the course of treatment by worsening stress. Therefore, involvement with spiritual values of the patient is of paramount importance for high standard healthcare training and clinical practice.

Despite the above background, the term 'spiritual' remains an open, fluid concept and, for health purposes, no definition of spirituality is universally accepted. Besides, some concepts may work well in clinical practice, but not so well for research purposes. More recently, 'secular' forms of spirituality arose from rationalistic and humanistic worldviews, liberal values, and analytic thinking about what a meaningful life is. For example, 'Spiritual-but-not-religious' is an increasingly popular self-designated faith affiliation, although they form a heterogeneous population. The realm of 'spiritual' can also encompass empirical views on anomalous phenomena.

Health professionals and researchers have the challenge to cover the entire spectrum of the spiritual level in their practice. This is particularly difficult because most healthcare courses do not prepare their graduates in this field. They also need to face acts of prejudice by their peers or their managers.

This Research Topic aspires for papers exploring the intersections between spirituality and healthcare in all their manifestations, either secular or religious ones, alongside their consequent clinical implications.

The collected material may provide a didactic beginning for practitioners or scholars involved in health or behavioural sciences. The vision of this article collection is to advance the acceptance of the patient’s spiritual dimension importance by healthcare professionals, treatment institutions, and government policies.

We welcome contributions including (but not limited to) the following areas:
• Bio-psycho-social-spiritual model of health;
• Definitions of spirituality in healthcare;
• Neurophysiological and cognitive-behavioural correlates;
• Religious-spiritual wellbeing and health;
• Secular-humanistic and ‘spiritual but not religious’ presentations;
• Spiritual coping - positive and negative forms;
• Integration of spiritual support in clinical settings;
• Faith-related approaches in healthcare;
• Anomalous phenomena of consciousness with spiritual content;
• The future role of spirituality in healthcare.


Keywords: spirituality, religiosity, faith, humanism, secularism, healthcare, health, wellbeing, holistic approach, patient-centrism


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

31 May 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 May 2021 Abstract
30 September 2021 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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