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Module Specifications..

Current Academic Year 2023 - 2024

Please note that this information is subject to change.

Module Title Spirituality,Religion & Health
Module Code NS143
School School of Nursing and Human Sciences
Module Co-ordinatorSemester 1: Gerard Clinton
Semester 2: Gerard Clinton
Autumn: Gerard Clinton
Module TeachersMarcia Kirwan
NFQ level 8 Credit Rating 5
Pre-requisite None
Co-requisite None
Compatibles None
Incompatibles None

This module will examine the impact of spirituality and religion on health and healthcare organisation. A historical approach will be taken to examine the impact on health and healthcare provision of major world religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam and more traditional medical systems associated with tribal and Eastern religions. In addition to examining the broad impact of religions, the more personal dimension of spirituality will be explored. This will be examined through the role of prayer and health and contemporary inclusion of spirituality in many alternative health systems. Students will be given the opportunity to reflect on their own views about spirituality and health, whether they see this as large or small. Students will be exposed to basic principles of evidence-based practice by examining research evidence on the question of spirituality’s impact on health. Critical reflection will be encouraging through examining controversial questions like whether prayer brings healing and how relevant ethical dilemmas are resolved. The latter would include cases where Jehovah’s witnesses refuse blood products because of their beliefs and cases where children have died because parents refused to use medical care in preference to relying on faith and prayer.

Learning Outcomes

1. Describe the differences between religion and spirituality in a health context
2. Discuss accurately the approach to health in various world religions and spiritual systems
3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the way in religion and spirituality impacts health and healthcare in different cultures
4. Critically evaluate arguments made on various sides of controversial aspects of this topic
5. Articulate their own view on the role of religion and spirituality in health

Workload Full-time hours per semester
Type Hours Description
Lecture36lecture and group discussion
Lecture6Guest lecturers scheduled as available
Independent Study83No Description
Total Workload: 125

All module information is indicative and subject to change. For further information,students are advised to refer to the University's Marks and Standards and Programme Specific Regulations at: http://www.dcu.ie/registry/examinations/index.shtml

Indicative Content and Learning Activities

Spirituality and religion: exploring definitions and differences

From ancient Greece to shamanism: gods and spirits in health and illness

Eastern approaches: traditional Chinese medicine and chi

Shalom in the Jewish tradition: peace and health

Early Christianity: a new attitude towards the sick

Healthcare in Islam: the origins of evidence-based medicine

The Catholic Church and healthcare systems: from admiration to disillusion

Pentecostal healing: deep faith or deception?

Secular spirituality: the power of belief and the placebo effect

New Age spirituality and the move to alternatives

Using science to support spirituality: reviewing the evidence

When medicine and religion conflict: ethical dilemmas

Assessment Breakdown
Continuous Assessment100% Examination Weight0%
Course Work Breakdown
TypeDescription% of totalAssessment Date
EssayPersonal reflection paper60%Week 26
AssignmentFour small assignments will be given during the semester, at 10% each.40%Week 26
Reassessment Requirement Type
Resit arrangements are explained by the following categories;
1 = A resit is available for all components of the module
2 = No resit is available for 100% continuous assessment module
3 = No resit is available for the continuous assessment component
This module is category 1
Indicative Reading List

  • Mark Cobb, Christina M. Puchalski and Bruce Rumbold (Editors): 2012, Oxford textbook of spirituality in healthcare, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 0199571392
  • Harold G. Koenig: 2008, Medicine, Religion, and Health: Where Science and Spirituality Meet, Templeton, 1599471418
  • Darrel W. Amundsen: 1996, Medicine, society, and faith in the ancient and medieval worlds, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 0801863546
  • B. S. Barnum: 2003, Spirituality in nursing, Springer, New York, 0826191827
  • Harold Koenig, Dana King, Verna B. Carson: 2011, Handbook of religion and health, 2, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 0195335953
  • Donal O'Mathuna, Walt Larimore: 2007, Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook, Updated and Expanded, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 9780310269991
  • Arthur K. Shapiro and Elaine Shapiro: 1997, The powerful placebo, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 0801866758
  • Daniel P. Sulmasy: 2006, The Rebirth of the Clinic, 1589010957
  • Amanda Porterfield: 2010, Healing in the History of Christianity, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 0199729948
  • Chris Cook, Andrew Powell (Editor), Andrew Simms (Editor): 2009, Spirituality and Psychiatry, RCPsych Publications, 1904671713
  • John Swinton: 2001, Spirituality and mental health care, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 9781853028045
  • Helen Orchard (Editor): 2001, Spirituality in Health Care Contexts, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 9781853029691
  • Richard P. Sloan: 2008, Blind Faith, St. Martin's Griffin, 0312348827
Other Resources

Programme or List of Programmes
AFUAge Friendly University Programme
Date of Last Revision07-FEB-12

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