Senior Scholar Featured in PBS Documentary ‘Your Health: A Sacred Matter’

KIE Senior Scholar Daniel Sulmasy, MD, PhD, will be featured in an upcoming documentary titled “Your Health: A Sacred Matter.” Sulmasy holds a joint appointment at the Pellegrino Center for Clinical Bioethics and is also the inaugural Andre Hellegers Professor of Biomedical Ethics. This documentary explores the role religion and health have historically played in Western medicine. The film airs on WORLD PBS at 8 pm ET Dec. 2 and 9 pm PT Dec. 3.

“The film is designed to make the general public aware of the relationship between spirituality and health care, the availability of resources such as hospital chaplains, and the growing interest of physicians in addressing the spiritual needs of patients,” Sulmasy said. “Serious illness inevitably raises questions of meaning, value, and relationship for patients. Why me? Why my daughter? What does this mean? Can I hold onto my sense of value even as illness robs me of so many things that society values? Even as my body is broken, can I heal the broken bonds in my relationships with family and friends? These questions arise for people of all faiths and of no faith. But they are spiritual in nature. Patients should not be afraid to ask these questions and doctors and nurses need to invite such questions and be ready to respond and refer, as necessary, to chaplains or other experts.”

The film features Sulmasy’s previous work as the Associate Director of the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics at the University of Chicago. In this role, Sulmasy trained doctors to work to meet the spiritual needs of their patients in addition to their medical needs. Conversations between Sulmasy and his students are included in the film.

I am glad to be part of a new movement that is re-introducing the spiritual elements back into health care–not in a facile way, but in a manner that calls upon the riches of faith traditions to help patients navigate the rough seas of sickness, injury, suffering, and death. The hope is to provide them with safe passage,” Sulmasy said. “The film will help to spread the word.”

The feature documentary was funded by the John Templeton Foundation and distributed by American Public Television.

A synopsis of the film follows:

“Your Health: A Sacred Matter” explores the role religion and health have played historically in Western medicine; the connections between religion, spirituality and health that are increasingly common in contemporary society; the role of religion and spirituality in healer’s lives and their approach to healing. The film discusses how modern biomedical investigations into mind/body connections are challenging conventional views about religion and spirituality in the West and how modern healers respond to a multicultural clientele. Given this moment of apparent transition in the history of healing as it relates to religion and spirituality in the West, we show how this knowledge is being passed on to the next generation of healers as well as the public at large. Through the film, we interpret engaging ways religion, spirituality and health interact in the everyday lives of many Americans.

Watch the film >>