God Attachment Theory: Integrating Spiritual, Mental and Physical Health First Name Priscilla Last Name Mondt Terminal Degree(s) Ph.D. Institution/Organization Veterans Healthcare System of the Ozarks (Retired)
Hippocratic oath focuses on the person and not the disease. How a patient views their disease impacts outcomes. These views are based on emotional and mental health and are often informed by theological perspectives. However, physicians are often too busy to gather all the information necessary to understand the personal dynamics of a patient let alone the theological constructs needed to effectively address the patient and their disease in a holistic manner. Attempts for increased efficacy include sites where interdisciplinary teams round together enabling better information gathering and understanding of the patient but these exclude healthcare chaplains that are the experts in spiritual care. Patient compliance is impacted by patient belief system (Koenig, 2008) with chaplains as the most effective healthcare staff able to address the non-compliance largely due to the ability to identify and work with the patient’s belief system. Belief systems are personal and often are not associated to a particular religion but an amalgamation of experiences, doctrine and even superstition. These may be adaptive or maladaptive (Dedeli & Kaptan, 2013). Physicians may become frustrated with patient / family member resistance or non-compliance and inappropriately attempt to change a belief system. Such attempts are harmful to the patient, create spiritual injuries and violate the “do no harm” premise of the Hippocratic Oath. This poster presentation utilizes a mental health theory that intersects with spirituality and impacts physical health. Utilizing the God Attachment Theory (Sandage, Jankowski, Crabtree & Schweer, 2015) from mental health, chaplains connect patients to their spirituality in order to address health care. Lack of attachment leads to both emotional and spiritual issues that impact health outcomes (Cassibba, Pagana, Calabrese, Costantino, Paterno & Granqvist, 2014). Assisting the patient to a healthy attachment to God resolves maladaptive belief systems and enables the patient to embrace physical healthcare requirements. Because God Attachment is not a quick process, it is not easily used in short term healthcare or with those without basic theological foundation. Rather, this theory is efficacious for patients in intermediate or long-term healthcare. Optimizing theological foundations, patients experience a process that draws them toward a deeper understanding of and relationship with God. The creation of a healthy attachment to God enables the patient to accept disease processes and compliance with physician care.