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Thursday, 2 June 2022

Spiritual care can be an important part of patients' recovery but is often overlooked, a University of Otago researcher says.

Associate Professor Richard Egan, from the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine in the Otago Medical School, will share national and international research on the benefits of spirituality in healthcare during a tour of Aotearoa this month.

egan portraitDr Richard Egan

Dr Egan also wants to hear from members of the public about their view on spiritual care, which will be collated and shared via publications, including to help inform the Ministry of Health.

“Spiritual care has often been misunderstood as just religious care,” he says. “While it includes religious care, with the majority of New Zealanders being non-religious, spiritual care can attend to the needs of atheists and to those with religious beliefs.

“With this misunderstanding, it's often left out of the healthcare conversation to the detriment of all.”

Spiritual care encompasses a patient's beliefs, values, traditions and practices to help them feel more connected to themselves, other people, or something beyond.

Throughout his 20 years of research, Dr Egan has found the inclusion of spiritual care improves patient satisfaction and health outcomes.

“Attending to spiritual care is important for many cultures, for example Māori and Pacific people in Aotearoa New Zealand,” he says.

It is a dimension of our care and wellbeing models – such as hauora, Te Whare Tapa Wha and hospice care – and benefits healthcare workers. “When operationalised across policy, institutions and patient care it improves healthcare professionals' experience at work.”

Dr Egan will speak in eight cities, starting in Dunedin on June 8.

Tour details:

  • Dunedin: 8 June, 5:30pm-7:30pm, Hunter Centre Seminar Room G.30B, 279 Great King St.
  • Christchurch: 13 June, 5pm-6:30pm, The Ballroom, Nurse Maude, McDougall House, 24 McDougall Ave, Merivale.
  • Wellington: 16 June, 5:30pm-7:30pm, Korimako Room, Walter Nash Centre, 22 Taine St, Lower Hutt.
  • New Plymouth: 17 June, 10am-12pm, Te Piere, F Block, Western Institute of Technology at Taranaki campus.
  • Palmerston North: 21 June, 5pm-7pm, Palmerston North City Library, second floor, 4 The Square.
  • Hastings: 22 June, 4pm-5:30pm, Education Auditorium, Hastings Memorial Hospital, 398 Omahu Road.
  • Hamilton: 27 June, 5pm-6:45pm, St Peter's Cathedral, 51 Victoria Street.
  • Auckland: 29 June, 7:30pm-9pm, St Luke's community centre, 130 Remuera Road, Remuera
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