“Communicating Spirituality in Healthcare: A Case Study on the Role of Identity in Religious Health Testimonies”
Kline, Susan L. “Communicating Spirituality in Healthcare: A Case Study on the Role of Identity in Religious Health Testimonies.” Journal of Applied Communication Research 39, no. 4 (2011): 334–51.
As a health communication researcher, Kline focuses this study on Christian Science for several reasons, including the use of health testimonies for examining how prayer affects health, and learning how people communicate about spirituality in their healthcare. “While health communication researchers have amassed work on health narratives, religious health testimonies focused on spirituality and healing have generally not been part of this effort” (335). She notes that Christian Scientists regard their religious practice as “an approach to healthcare bringing better health and producing greater spiritual growth, harmony, and stronger felt relationship to and understanding of God” (337). Six themes emerged from Kline’s research on testimonials published in Christian Science periodicals in 2008 and 2009, reflecting three general interactive processes involving spirituality and health: 1) expression of love by both practitioners and testifiers; 2) affirmation and desire to learn more about God and people’s identities as spiritual, good and perfect; 3) rejecting mistaken views and replacing them with spiritual truths. Kline notes several ways this research contributes to understanding the role of communication and spirituality in healthcare. But she also acknowledges the limitations with this study and anticipates further research to learn more specifically how spirituality and health are more generally connected.
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