Spirituality and Religion

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In the early 1970’s, Betty Neuman created a holistically based, open-system theory to aid nurses in organizing the voluminous information needed to deal with complex client situations (Meleis, 2007, p.307). One component of the Neuman Systems Model is spirituality, which is described as being related to beliefs and influences that are spiritual. It should be noted that this was absent in her initial conceptualization and was developed later (Meleis, 2007, p.307). While utilizing the Neuman framework for client assessment, religion is often applied as a spiritual factor. Using this theory as basis one might conclude that religion and spirituality are synonymous in concept. This begs the question: Are they, in fact, equal in meaning or at the very least required of each other for synergistic forward movement? I am not certain that the answer is clear-cut and I believe that personal observations will allow for objective thought for argument – pro or con.

In order to develop my personal philosophy of the relationship between religion and spirituality I had to do some research. I found that there are many definitions, often in direct contradiction of each other. In studying concepts of spirituality, one observation that I found intriguing was offered by Rabbi Adat Shalom (2011) who states, “…spirituality, which takes it’s character from individuality.” In 1997, Dr. John K Testerman, an Associate Professor for the Department of Family Medicine at Loma Linda University School of Medicine presented his thoughts on the subject, stating:

The most fundamental concept of spirituality is that there is a transcendent dimension to life, something or someone beyond our own ego and sense of experience. The experience of connection ...

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...nse of connection with someone or something outside of themselves is a relatively new concept to me. This will have an impact on my considerations for holistic patient care in the future.

Works Cited

Meleis, A. I. (2007). Theoretical nursing: Development and progress (4th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Rex Smith, A. (2009). Nursing and spirituality: What happened to religion. Journal of Christian Nursing, 26(4), 216-222. doi:10.1097/01.CNJ0000361243.35944.69

Shalom, A., & Perlo, S. (2011, February). Spirituality and religion are not mutually exclusive. Retrieved May 21, 2011, from

Testerman, J. K. (1997, June). Spirituality vs religion: Implications for healthcare. Retrieved May 22, 2011, from
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