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Spiritual care initiative in Turkey: Cultural and conceptual challenges
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CitationKaplan, H. (2019). Spiritual care initiative in Turkey: Cultural and conceptual challenges. Religiosity in East and West: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges, 25-27 June 2019, Münster, Germany.
About three years ago, the Turkish Government initiated spiritual care services in certain hospitals. The Presidency of Religious Affairs and the Ministry of Health signed a protocol to provide spiritual care for patients, primarily in palliative units. After the initiative, both public and academic interest surprisingly increased. As a result, research in spirituality boomed. Many researchers from various disciplines-ranging from psychiatry to psychology, education, social work, nursing, and theology- have been conducting series of studies in spirituality and spiritual care. Although this initiative caused upsurge and exuberance in the Turkish academia, there are several challenges needed to be dealt with. One of the first and most challenging issues is the conceptual frame. The definition of spirituality has not been settled in the literature. Almost every involved discipline attempts to develop their own unique conceptual frame regarding spirituality. This elusiveness creates both theoretical and methodological problems. The second most important challenge involves several cultural factors. First of all, since the concept of “spiritual care,” with its theoretical and practical aspects, is imported from Western culture, it seems to be askew in Turkish culture. Second, the modern and secularly oriented medical community seems to not be familiar with such practice and tends to resist it. Third, its cross-disciplinary nature has created territorial disputes among several disciplines. Finally, the patients also oftentimes found it to be odd and confusing. After briefing the spiritual care initiative in Turkey, this paper will explore these challenges and related developments throughout the past 4 years in which spiritual care has been in practice.