spirituality and medicine:
curriculum development project


'Wholeness in Healing' course in Queen's University, Belfast

The module is facilitated by staff in the School of Medicine and Dentistry and Institute of Theology, QUB, together with NHS colleagues, members of the Hospital Chaplaincy Team based in the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and other outside individuals and organisations, for example the Northern Ireland Hospice, Healing Through Remembering and the Church of Ireland’s Ministry of Healing. The module contributors include clinicians, members of the clergy, and lay people with an interest in pastoral care and healing ministry including local patients such as Sharyn MacKay and George McMurtry who have shared their personal accounts of healing. The module is mainly based in a standard classroom setting although the venue is outside of the core medical teaching facilities and there are opportunities to shadow chaplains as they visit patients on the hospital wards or in hospice care, and also to meet with individuals who arrange services of divine healing.

The content of the module is delivered as a series of seminars facilitated by the module co-ordinators and various invited speakers supplemented by group discussion and role-play scenarios. Topics covered include an introduction to the definition of health and the meaning of suffering; a multi-faith theological perspective on healing and suffering including reference to use of traditional charms and cures in rural Ireland and the influence of the witchdoctor in rural Africa; spiritual history taking and therapeutic communication skills and their practical application particularly in the context of the doctor-patient consultation; the sharing of their faith by healthcare professionals with their patients recognising appropriate professional boundaries and duties of the doctor as outlined by the General Medical Council; breaking bad news with sensitivity; understanding and providing support to patients and their relatives during progression of terminal illness, through bereavement and into the grieving process; pastoral care and the role of the hospital chaplaincy team; prayer ministry and faith healing; divine healing through miraculous events and conventional medicine; evaluation of published clinical trial data and individual case studies relating to the association between spirituality, health and illness and reports of faith healing; reflection on why ‘physical’ healing does not always occur.


» Other SSCs in spirituality


The Spirituality and Medicine Curriculum Development Project is funded by the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry.