Is There a Need for Including Spiritual Care in Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation of Chronic Pain Patients? Investigating an Innovative Strategy

Alexander Garschagen, Monique A H Steegers, Alfonsus H M M van Bergen, Johannes A M Jochijms, Titus L M Skrabanja, Hubertus J M Vrijhoef, Rob J E M Smeets, Kris C P Vissers

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Chronic noncancer pain influences patient's quality of life and their ability to cope. Pain relieving medication and other specific treatments commonly integrated in biopsychosocial rehabilitation demonstrate modest benefits in pain relief and improved functioning of individuals. Spiritual care, covering the fourth dimension provides insight, inspires hope and purpose, and is thought to mediate mental and physical health for patients. This study explores the need for its inclusion in interdisciplinary pain rehabilitation and describes the requirements and test environment for evaluation.

METHODS: Outcomes of spiritual care and interdisciplinary pain rehabilitation in follow-up studies of randomized controlled trials contained in systematic reviews were summarized. Pubmed, Cochrane, and PsycINFO were searched, citation tracking was applied, articles of follow-up studies therein were located. Literature was searched for insights pertaining to requirements for an assessment of including this fourth dimension.

RESULTS: No systematic reviews for spiritual care were identified. Five systematic reviews of biopsychosocial rehabilitation containing 14 studies describing long-term outcomes were retrieved. The importance of coping in maintaining long-term outcomes was empirically illustrated. The required test environment is provided by a structured multidimensional care pathway separating spirituality from well-being and mental health, with measures of treatment outcome installed enabling a comparison with benchmarks.

CONCLUSIONS: Active coping seems beneficial for maintaining positive long-term outcomes of interdisciplinary pain rehabilitation Spiritual care may be conducive to active coping. Further research is warranted to explore the additive value of this spiritual care in the context of a multidimensional care pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-87
Number of pages17
JournalPain practice
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015


  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Chronic Pain/diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Pain Management/methods
  • Patient Care Team/trends
  • Quality of Life
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic/methods
  • Spiritual Therapies/methods
  • Therapies, Investigational/methods
  • Treatment Outcome

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