Spirituality refers to the belief in something larger than oneself, that ties people together as part of a universal whole. It encompasses a wide range of practices and beliefs, from religious traditions focused on a higher power to holistic practices such as meditation or yoga. Spirituality seeks to answer questions about life’s meaning, purpose and connection to others as well as to the universe.
The broad spectrum of definitions and interpretations makes it difficult to develop a framework for understanding and measuring spirituality. In addition, the relationship between religiosity and spirituality is not always clear, since people can be spiritual without being religious.
In clinical practice, the concept of spirituality can be helpful in understanding a patient’s cultural and family upbringing, which may impact their ability to connect with their world. Spirituality can also serve as an avenue for identifying patients’ moral values, which are associated with a patient’s sense of meaning and purpose in their lives. For example, in the context of a patient with moral injury, a therapist may help them explore their beliefs about forgiveness and how it might be related to their feelings of depression or suicidal thoughts.
This systematic review was conducted following PRISMA guidelines (PROSPERO: CRD42021262091). All available articles on spirituality were identified in PubMed and in the reference lists of articles found, and were selected for analysis based on specific eligibility criteria. Twenty-four different definitions of spirituality were found, and their dimensions were analyzed to construct a framework that represents the current state of knowledge on this topic.