Explanatory definition of the concept of spiritual health: a qualitative study in Iran

  • Ahmad Ghaderi PhD Candidate in Medical Ethics Medical Ethics and History of Medicine Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran; School of Medicine, Department of Medical Ethics, Tehran, University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
  • Seyed Mahmoud Tabatabaei Professor Medical Ethics and History of Medicine Research Center, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
  • Saharnaz Nedjat Professor Epidemiology & Biostatistics Department, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
  • Mohsen Javadi Professor Department of Ethics, Qom University, Qom, Iran.
  • Bagher Larijani Professor Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Center, Endocrinology and Metabolism Research Institute, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
Spiritual health, Spirituality, Health-care ethics


Scientists and researchers have examined spiritual health from different angles and proposed various definitions, but a comprehensive definition does not exist for the term as of now. The present study aimed to offer the definition, components and indicators of spiritual health from experts’ perspective.

This qualitative study utilized conventional content analysis and individual in-depth interviews with 22 experts in the area of spiritual health in various fields selected through purposeful sampling. Member check, credibility, reliability, transferability and allocation of adequate time for data collection were measured to increase the validity and reliability of the results. Conventional content analysis was performed in three main phases: preparation, organization and reporting, and the categories, subcategories and codes emerged accordingly.

Participants defined spiritual health in three dimensions: religious, individualistic, and material world-oriented. The study revealed four types of connection in spiritual health: human connection with God, himself, others and the nature. The majority of participants stated that spiritual health and spirituality were different, and pointed out the following characteristics for spiritual health: it affects physical, mental, and social health; it dominates other aspects of health; there are religious and existential approaches to spiritual health; it is perceptible in people’s behavior; and it can be enhanced and improved. Most experts recognized human connection with God as the most important part of the definition of spiritual health. In conclusion, the connection between humans and themselves, others and the nature was not seen as a component specific to spiritual health


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How to Cite
Ghaderi A, Tabatabaei SM, Nedjat S, Javadi M, Larijani B. Explanatory definition of the concept of spiritual health: a qualitative study in Iran. J Med Ethics Hist Med. 11.
Original Article(s)