This post is excerpted from my book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy:
Finding a doctor and other health care team members who share your spiritual foundation and practices may be crucial for you—and thankfully it’s fairly simple. You can use a spiritual inventory.
Doctors are increasingly using spiritual inventories in their care of patients. In fact, when I make presentations at medical centers, medical schools, and professional meetings, the question I most often hear is, “How can doctors take useful spiritual inventories of their patients?”
In the same way a doctor can inquire about a patient’s spiritual beliefs, a patient should feel free to ask about how a doctor’s spiritual beliefs and practices relate to his or her medical care.
A winning health care provider should be perfectly willing to let you know where he or she stands on these issues.
Furthermore, when it comes to alternative or complementary care providers, these questions can be critical, because some have been known to use their therapy to actively recruit unsuspecting patients into spiritual belief systems I think are highly unhealthy. (You can read more about this in my best-selling book: Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook).
Here are a few questions you could ask at your interview of the prospective health care provider—or during your first official appointment. I’m sure you could come up with some of your own to add.
I’m aware that most people probably won’t follow my suggestion to ask a provider all the following questions—especially at a first meeting. However, if your spirituality is very important to you, and if you want a provider who shares your beliefs, then each question might by useful for you to discuss with your physician at some point.
- Are you willing to consider my spiritual preferences as you care for me?
- Are you open to discussion of the religious or spiritual implications of my health care?
- Are you willing to work with my spiritual mentors (pastor, priest, rabbi, elder) and other members of my health care team (family, friends, mentor, support group) in providing me with the best possible health care?
- Are you willing to pray with me—or for me—if I feel the need for prayer?
For those who are working to inflate and balance their spiritual wheel, asking questions 1, 2, 3, and 4 is perfectly reasonable—and, I would expect, acceptable to most physicians and providers. Some might consider the following questions to be too personal and intimate to ask of a total stranger. So if you’re not there—no problem.
- What does spirituality mean to you? How much is religion (and God) a source of strength and comfort for you?
- Have you ever had an experience that convinced you that God or a higher power exists?
- How strongly religious or spiritually oriented do you consider yourself to be?
- Do you pray? If so, how frequently?
- Do you attend religious worship times? If so, how often do you generally attend?
Even if you decide that asking these questions in an interview style is not comfortable, you may want to look for opportunities to talk informally during a visit. But at least consider asking the first four questions.
Frankly discussing this can strengthen all four of your health wheels, as well as your trust relationship with your health care provider.