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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Spirituality and health in the curricula of medical schools in Brazil

Giancarlo Lucchetti123*, Alessandra Lamas Granero Lucchetti1, Daniele Corcioli Mendes Espinha1, Leandro Romani de Oliveira12, José Roberto Leite2 and Harold G Koenig45

Author Affiliations

1 São Paulo Medical Spiritist Association, Av. Juriti, 367 apto 131 – Moema, São Paulo, SP, CEP: 04520-000, Brazil

2 Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil

3 João Evangelista Hospital, São Paulo, Brazil

4 Duke University Medical Center, Durham, USA

5 King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

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BMC Medical Education 2012, 12:78  doi:10.1186/1472-6920-12-78

Published: 18 August 2012



According to recent surveys, 59% of British medical schools and 90% of US medical schools have courses or content on spirituality and health (S/H). There is little research, however, on the teaching of S/H in medical schools in other countries, such as those in Latin America, Asia, Australia and Africa. The present study seeks to investigate the current status of teaching on S/H in Brazilian medical schools.


All medical schools in Brazil (private and public) were selected for evaluation, were contacted by email and phone, and were administered a questionnaire. The questionnaire, sent by e-mail, asked medical school directors/deans about any S/H courses that were taught, details about those courses, S/H lectures or seminars, importance of teaching this subject for medical school directors, and medical schools characteristics.


A total of 86 out of 180 (47.7%) medical schools responded. Results indicated that 10.4% of Brazilian Medical Schools have a dedicated S/H courses and 40.5% have courses or content on spirituality and health. Only two medical schools have S/H courses that involve hands-on training and three schools have S/H courses that teach how to conduct a spiritual history. The majority of medical directors (54%) believe that S/H is important to teach in their schools.


Few Brazilian medical schools have courses dealing specifically with S/H and less than half provide some form of teaching on the subject. Unfortunately, there is no standard curriculum on S/H. Nevertheless, the majority of medical directors believe this issue is an important subject that should be taught.

Spirituality; Religion; Medical education; Medical schools; Medical students