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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Conceptualising spirituality for medical research and health service provision

Michael B King1* and Harold G Koenig2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Mental Health Sciences, University College London Medical School, Royal Free Campus, Rowland Hill Street, London, UK

2 Duke University Medical Center, Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA

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BMC Health Services Research 2009, 9:116  doi:10.1186/1472-6963-9-116

Published: 13 July 2009


The need to take account of spirituality in research and health services provision is assuming ever greater importance. However the field has long been hampered by a lack of conceptual clarity about the nature of spirituality itself. We do not agree with the sceptical claim that it is impossible to conceptualise spirituality within a scientific paradigm. Our aims are to 1) provide a brief over-view of critical thinking that might form the basis for a useful definition of spirituality for research and clinical work and 2) demystify the language of spirituality for clinical practice and research.