Health care providers are constantly in contact with people from diverse communities and religions. In fact the provision of health care demands that providers interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds with varying spiritual and religious beliefs. The beliefs affect the provision of health to these patients (Cadge & Bandini, 2015). It is mandatory that health care workers have knowledge of faith diversity and accept the different faiths. This paper makes a comparative analysis of Christianity and Buddhism faith philosophies towards the provision of health care.
Christianity is the largest religion in the world with billions of followers. Christians believe in God and Jesus Christ. The Bible is an important guide to Christianity and contains values that Christians should follow. Additionally, this book contains knowledge and guides to things such as health care and other services. According to the Bible and popular Christian belief, God is the source of all life (Ferngren, 2009). In addition, God determines the time for death. The health of an individual is a result of the interaction of the physical and spiritual factors in his life.
Christians believe that death is not the end of life. In fact, human beings are transformed into other beings after death awaiting judgment. Some of the values in this religion include reading the Bible, praying, and using anointing oil. In Christianity, healing is as a result of the interaction between psychological and physical factors. Another belief held by some Christians is the anointing oil fosters healing and visiting the sick in hospitals for prayer helps them improve. Privacy is an important component of this religion.
Prime reality in Christianity means following the Biblical teachings and heeding to the taught beliefs. The nature of the world around us according to Christianity entails respect for other individuals. Additionally, Christians believe that they have an obligation to help their neighbors and keep them healthy. In Christianity, a human being is an individual of any race, religion, background, or culture. They believe that human beings were created in the likeness of God. Death is not the end of life for Christians. It is a transformation from one being to another to await judgment. Healing is aimed at preventing death.
The distinction between right and wrong in Christianity is dependent on the Christian values in the Bible. Human history is mainly a concept that is contained in the Bible and Christians believe in creation as contained in the Bible and not other concepts such as evolution. Christians have health-seeking behaviors that are similar to most other religions (Ferngren, 2009). Different denominations in Christianity have varying beliefs on healing and disease (Koenig & Smiley, 1988). The health beliefs held in these denominations are dependent on the Biblical interpretation.
Buddhism is an Eastern religion that is practiced in parts of Tibet, China, India, and the rest of the Eastern countries (Morgan, 2001). Buddhism is built on the meditation of the mind and affection (Morgan, 2001). Additionally, this religion involves achieving stability of the mind to promote healing. Like in Christianity, meditation is a private affair with members having their routines. Unlike in other cultures and some religions where women do not receive health care, Buddhism encourages the participation of women in health care. Childbearing is a major factor causing improved health care provision for the women in this religion.
Aside from meditation, Buddhists believe in doing good so as to maintain spiritual and physical health. In addition, the Buddhists regard the human body as being sacred and free of corruption (Morgan, 2001). Meditation is, therefore, a way of ensuring that the body remains sacred and pure. Meditation is done in private because it is a private affair. Buddhist patients meditate in private to achieve spiritual and physical healing. Aside from healing, meditation in Buddhism has a way of keeping them from a disease. This intervention is a similar component of both Christianity and Buddhism.
Buddhism is built around the desire to find stability between disease, death, and old age. In fact, the first Buddha had been on a journey to find truths related to aging, death, and disease. This religion, therefore, has a special regard for health and healing. The challenge is the traditional medicine and beliefs that provide alternative therapies for patients. In some cases, these therapies are ineffective and may be harmful (Morgan, 2001). The basic Buddha teachings are friendly to good health. These include refraining from killing, theft, false information, intoxication, and drug abuse.
Similarities and Differences
Christianity and Buddhism have several components in common during the provision of health care to patients of these faiths. First, both religions consider life to be sacred and it is the duty of the community, family, the patient, and the family to ensure that the individual recovers from illness. Secondly, these religions have far-reaching relevance during illness as patients seek spiritual reconciliation to get healed. In both religions, disease is a product of spiritual factors and results from the environment. The character of an individual also has an influence on disease development and outcome in these religions (Koenig & Smiley, 1988).
The guiding books and teachings in both religions have a common teaching on the origin of life and its end. In these books, the followers are required to abide by the principles of meditation and privacy while doing so (Pesut, Fowler, Taylor, Reimer-Kirkham, & Sawatzky, 2008). A common belief is that patients often improve faster and attain spiritual healing when they meditate. Patients admitted in the ward and those suffering from chronic conditions have the best chance of mediation as they consider the end of life to be a connection between them and the creator (Schwartz, 2011). Consequently, both religions have an important role in maintaining the balance between health and disease.
Christianity and Buddhism have common beliefs in relation to the nature of the world, human beings, morality, history, and health. The mere coexistence between these religions is testimony to the shared beliefs and tolerance (Cadge & Bandini, 2015). When providing health care to Buddhists and Christians, it is imperative that the health care providers consider the religion. Some aspects of these religions may aid in the delivery of care.
The two religions have common beliefs of what happens to an individual after death. While Buddhists believe that there is incarnation, Christians believe that death is not the end of life but just a stage in spirituality. The events that occur after death are also similar and affect the principles in an individual’s lifetime (Koenig & Smiley, 1988). Healing is common to both Christianity and Buddhism. In Christianity, the spiritual forces responsible for healing in Christianity are also common to the Buddhist community. In fact, Buddhist and Christians share a common faith regarding disease and health (Ferngren, 2009).
The differences between Christianity and Buddhism in the delivery of care include the belief in traditional and optional medicine. While both religions are affected by the cultures of their followers, Buddhists have a strong belief in alternative forms of medicine and therapies (Cadge & Bandini, 2015). Some aspects of these alternative forms of therapies are considered inappropriate by the Christians (Ferngren, 2009). Additionally, these beliefs affect the outcome of disease in Buddhists bust may not be true for the Christians.
The definition of what is right and wrong is similar in both religions. However, Buddhists have a strict outlook on morality and a concrete definition of the moral idealism. When providing health care to Buddhists, health care providers have the obligation of following the beliefs of these individuals. In addition, Buddhists have a unique health seeking behavior. Most consider traditional therapies before seeking specialized medical care (Ferngren, 2009).
Implications to Health Care
Religion is an important influence to health care and health seeking behavior. Buddhism and Christianity are some of the most populous religions in the world, and nurses may have one or more patients from these religions during their practice. These providers should be ready to offer services to different religions irrespective of their religions (Cadge & Bandini, 2015). The knowledge of religious and ethical principles related to Christianity and Buddhism is also useful in planning care for patients in areas where these religions predominate.
Christianity beliefs are relevant to the health seeking behavior of patients. Christians believe that the biblical teachings are the main guide in the health seeking behavior. Nurses and other health care providers should ensure that they participate in religious activities to familiarize themselves with the religions of their patients. The role played by religion in patient health also demands that health care providers take religious classes as a requirement in training (Torres, Einav, Villarreal, & Varon, 2015). A brief introduction in undergraduate classes would orientate the students in their care of patients from different religions.
Religion is also an important determinant of medical interventions in the treatment of patients. In fact, the contemporary healing hospital paradigm requires that patients’ psychological, social, and physical health is considered in treatment (Morgan, 2001). Some interventions have been developed from these religions with the intention of treating patients with different conditions. Some of the interventions include the biopsychosocial model of treating patients with mental conditions.
Medical interventions such as abortion are controversial topics in these religions. Consequently, care decisions should include the religion of patients. Aside from involving patients in their care, health care providers should target to improve the psychological health of patients. One aspect of psychological health for patients is to ensure that their religious health is considered in management.
My Christian perspective dictates that the spiritual needs of patients are considered in the management of patients. The Christian morals influence decisions in health care such as euthanasia and abortion. These are controversial subjects in health care delivery. The research has enabled me to see some of the roles of religion in healthcare. In addition, the research allows comparison of the different religions in terms of their health seeking behavior. This knowledge should be useful in the management of patients from diverse religions. Finally, religion should not be used to deny health care services to patients. On the contrary, the religion of a patient should influence the clinicians’ care delivery decisions.
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Ferngren, G. (2009). Medicine & amp; health care in early Christianity. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Koenig, H., & Smiley, M. (1988). Religion, health, and aging: A review and theoretical integration. New York: Greenwood Press.
Morgan, D. (2001). The best guide to eastern philosophy and religion. Los Angeles, Calif.: Renaissance Books.
Pesut, B., Fowler, M., Taylor, E. J., Reimer-Kirkham, S., & Sawatzky, R. (2008). Conceptualising spirituality and religion for healthcare. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 17(21), 2803-2810.
Schwartz, S. A. (2011). Trends that will affect your future … the rise of American theocracy, and the implications for science and healthcare. Explore (New York, N.Y.), 7(4), 217-221.
Torres, K., Einav, S., Villarreal, R., & Varon, J. (2015). Religion and life support withdrawal in children: What do Healthcare Providers wish? Resuscitation, 17(21), 2803-2810.