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Full Access The Emperor’s New Clothes: Spirituality.A Concept Based on Questionable Ontology and Circular Findings

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The Emperor’s New Clothes: Spirituality.A Concept Based on Questionable Ontology and Circular Findings

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Summary ‘Spirituality’ is an old word which throughout history has been given different meanings. Over the last two decades, it has successively become an increasingly frequent concept in scientific studies, none the least in psychosocial oncology. Advocates of ‘spirituality’ regard it as a human dimension and state that since all humans have ‘spiritual needs’ it is urgent to develop ‘spiritual care’. With the focus on recent publications, this article critically scrutinizes aspects of scientific soundness in this growing research tradition, foremost problems of the lack of conceptual clarity and reliance on interconnected instruments that imply circular findings. It is concluded that the concept adds more confusion than clarity if it is not put into a meaningful theoretical and cultural context, and subsequently it is important to guard against preconceptions and vague meanings in this research field.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Social Work, Umea University SE-901 87 Umeå Sweden Par.Salander@socw.umu.se

10.1163/157361212X645241
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Summary ‘Spirituality’ is an old word which throughout history has been given different meanings. Over the last two decades, it has successively become an increasingly frequent concept in scientific studies, none the least in psychosocial oncology. Advocates of ‘spirituality’ regard it as a human dimension and state that since all humans have ‘spiritual needs’ it is urgent to develop ‘spiritual care’. With the focus on recent publications, this article critically scrutinizes aspects of scientific soundness in this growing research tradition, foremost problems of the lack of conceptual clarity and reliance on interconnected instruments that imply circular findings. It is concluded that the concept adds more confusion than clarity if it is not put into a meaningful theoretical and cultural context, and subsequently it is important to guard against preconceptions and vague meanings in this research field.

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2012-01-01
2016-12-10

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