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Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine

Editor-in-Chief: Lui, Edmund

Ed. by Ko, Robert / Leung, Kelvin Sze-Yin / Saunders, Paul / Suntres, PH. D., Zacharias

CiteScore 2017: 1.41

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An 81-year-old woman with chronic illnesses and a strong faith

Susie T. Harris
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Health Services and Information Management, College of Allied Health Sciences, East Carolina University, Mail Stop 668, 600 Moye Boulevard, Greenville, NC 27834, USA
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Harold G. Koenig
  • Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC, USA
  • Department of Medicine, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
  • School of Public Health, Ningxia Medical University, Yinchuan, P.R. China
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2015-10-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jcim-2015-0004


Mrs. Smith is an 81-year-old woman who has several medical problems. Despite these problems, however, her faith and spirituality strength give her the strength and determination to move forward in life. She stresses that, “My faith helps me cope with my illnesses.” This article describes Mrs. Smith’s roller coaster life and how faith, prayer, and hope have allowed her to continue to press forward. She interprets pain and illnesses as challenges, not obstacles. Her physician who has been treating her for about 20 years indicates that she has continued to have multiple chronic health issues and has maintained an incredibly positive spirit, particularly when traditional medicine has failed to make a difference. Spiritual care is being increasingly documented as an important component of whole person medicine. For some, religiosity and spirituality are important aspects of patient–provider relationship. God, faith, and hope are essential factors to Mrs. Smith who uses spirituality and religion daily to cope with her chronic illnesses.

Keywords: diabetes; faith; quality of life; religion; spiritual history; spirituality

The case presented here is based on one reported in 2002 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, [1] which has been modified and updated, and combined with other cases to illustrate the points made in the present article.


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About the article

Received: 2015-01-28

Accepted: 2015-09-01

Published Online: 2015-10-13

Published in Print: 2016-03-01

Citation Information: Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Volume 13, Issue 1, Pages 83–89, ISSN (Online) 1553-3840, ISSN (Print) 2194-6329, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/jcim-2015-0004.

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