spirituality and medicine:
curriculum development project


Learning objectives from the Task Force Report

in Spirituality, Cultural issues and End of Life Care

from the US Medical School Objectives Project


The Medical School Objectives Project (MSOP) was carried out by the Association of American Medical Colleges to take an overall look at what they were trying to achieve in medical education. Their third report (MSOP III) looked at the issue of communication in medicine, and contained within it a report from a task force charged with looking at learning objectives for spirituality, cultural issues and end of life care.

Their learning objectives in the area of spirituality by the time of graduation were that students should demonstrate:


» The ability to elicit a spiritual history

» The ability to obtain a cultural history that elicits the patient’s cultural identity,
experiences and explanations of illness, self-selected health practices, culturally
relevant interpretations of social stress factors, and availability of culturally
relevant support systems

» An understanding that the spiritual dimension of people’s lives is an avenue
for compassionate care giving

» The ability to apply the understanding of a patient’s spirituality and cultural
beliefs and behaviors to appropriate clinical contexts (e.g., in prevention, case
formulation, treatment planning, challenging clinical situations)

» Knowledge of research data on the impact of spirituality on health and on
health care outcomes, and on the impact of patients’ cultural identity, beliefs,
and practices on their health, access to and interactions with health care
providers, and health outcomes

» An understanding of, and respect for, the role of clergy and other spiritual leaders,
and culturally-based healers and care providers, and how to communicate and/or
collaborate with them on behalf of patients’ physical and/or spiritual needs

» An understanding of their own spirituality and how it can be nurtured as part of
their professional growth, promotion of their well-being, and the basis of their
calling as a physician'



They also looked at what education strategies may be used to achieve these goals.


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.