Case Study: Healing and Autonomy

Mike and Joanne are the parents of James and Samuel, identical twins born 8 years ago. James is currently suffering from acute glomerulonephritis, kidney failure. James was originally brought into the hospital for complications associated with a strep throat infection. The spread of the A streptococcus infection led to the subsequent kidney failure. James’s condition was acute enough to warrant immediate treatment. Usually cases of acute glomerulonephritis caused by strep infection tend to improve on their own or with an antibiotic. However, James also had elevated blood pressure and enough fluid buildup that required temporary dialysis to relieve.

The attending physician suggested immediate dialysis. After some time of discussion with Joanne, Mike informs the physician that they are going to forego the dialysis and place their faith in God. Mike and Joanne had been moved by a sermon their pastor had given a week ago, and also had witnessed a close friend regain mobility when she was prayed over at a healing service after a serious stroke. They thought it more prudent to take James immediately to a faith healing service instead of putting James through multiple rounds of dialysis. Yet, Mike and Joanne agreed to return to the hospital after the faith healing services later in the week, and in hopes that James would be healed by then.

Two days later the family returned and was forced to place James on dialysis, as his condition had deteriorated. Mike felt perplexed and tormented by his decision to not treat James earlier. Had he not enough faith? Was God punishing him or James? To make matters worse, James’s kidneys had deteriorated such that his dialysis was now not a temporary matter and was in need of a kidney transplant. Crushed and desperate, Mike and Joanne immediately offered to donate one of their own kidneys to James, but they were not compatible donors. Over the next few weeks, amidst daily rounds of dialysis, some of their close friends and church members also offered to donate a kidney to James. However, none of them were tissue matches.

James’s nephrologist called to schedule a private appointment with Mike and Joanne. James was stable, given the regular dialysis, but would require a kidney transplant within the year. Given the desperate situation, the nephrologist informed Mike and Joanne of a donor that was an ideal tissue match, but as of yet had not been considered—James’s brother Samuel.

Mike vacillates and struggles to decide whether he should have his other son Samuel lose a kidney or perhaps wait for God to do a miracle this time around. Perhaps this is where the real testing of his faith will come in? Mike reasons, “This time around it is a matter of life and death. What could require greater faith than that?”


Patient’s Spiritual Needs: Case Analysis

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Patient’s Spiritual Needs: Case Analysis

Patient spiritual needs refer to the prerequisites and expectations people have about finding purpose, value, and meaning in their life. Assessing patients’ spiritual needs not only guarantees health improvement but also enhances safety and promotes quality care. This essay seeks to discuss the significance of assessing a patient’s spiritual needs in light of the Christian Worldview by analyzing the case study on healing and autonomy.

Should Mike Continue Making Decisions for James

In as much as taking into account the patient’s spiritual needs are significant for quality care and satisfactory health outcome, striking a balance between faith and healthcare practice is no less crucial. According to Austin et al. (2017), as nursing practice escalates towards a more patient-centered approach and the need for spiritual care training is needed among clinical providers, the patient’s belief and medical treatment are becoming more fundamental and complementary principles. Recent suggestions from healthcare professionals who are religiously affiliated dictate that since the brain is the Central Processing Unit of the body, it matters what one thinks because it affects the functionality of their bodies. On the first arrival, the physician proposes that James undergoes dialysis, which his parents decide to forego and instead take their son to a faith healing service.

Contrary to their expectation of returning in a week with their son miraculously healed, James’s condition deteriorates further, forcing them to return to the hospital sooner than expected. Building on Lindgren & Kethcart’s (2016) arguments, both patients and clinical practitioners must understand how and when to strike a balance between medical interventions and the patient’s spiritual needs. Granted that the patient’s condition only worsened when faith alone was chosen, it necessitates the physician to act accordingly. Conclusively, the physician should not allow Mike to make decisions for his son on the condition that they put the patient at more risks. However, the physician should act under the binding terms and ethical approaches within his/her jurisdiction.

Christian Thinking on Sickness and Medical Intervention

The Christian thinking with regards to sickness and health is well outlined in the scripture. God is considered the great physician, working through the various medical practitioners and healthcare experts to bring healing and restore health for His entire creation. Bogue et al. (2020), in one of their topics, suggests that Christian values dictated by God in His word should guide decision-making in healthcare. As indicated in the previous discussion, sickness is a result of sin due to man’s disobedience to God. Initially, humans enjoyed uninterrupted communion with God, the source of their health and life. By disobeying God’s Law, human beings were rendered incapable of even observing the laws of health (Bogue et al., 2020). However, God made a provision through the death of His Son, and now men and women can receive healing and restoration through God’s appointed providences. Among the most prominent providences given by God is medical interventions.

While some Christians’ claims suggest that medical interventions have become corrupted by unprofessional and untrustworthy healthcare providers, Timmins & Caldeira (2017) reiterate that faith alone cannot bring health. Actions must follow faith. As is the typical belief of many Christian, the doctors treat, while God is the healer. Like Mike, many Christian fail to understand the striking balance between religious affiliation and medical intervention. As a dedicated Christian, Mike should acknowledge that God has His numerous and incomprehensible ways of bringing health and restoration to His ailing creatures. It is not necessarily that one has to be prayed for and miraculously receive healing. Like the blind man at the Pool of Siloam, God requires Christian to act a part in actualizing the health restoration process. Conferring to Lindgren & Kethcart (2016), the Christian Worldview has been corrupted by the obsession with medical practitioners in a rush, pushing as many people as possible to accept medical intervention as the definitive solution.

Subsequently, due to differences in faith-based religious viewpoints, a wide variation in healthcare has become the inevitable outcome. Nonetheless, Timmins & Caldeira (2017) b believe that when patients and nurses understand the essence of spirituality and spiritual nursing care, it exerts an influence that works to improve all people’s mental and physical health. In adherence to the principles of beneficence and Nonmaleficence in James’s care, Mike should more expressly manifest his faith by trusting the providence that God has availed. In this case, James should reason with the fact that when James forewent the dialysis and was taken to a healing service, his condition worsened. Conversely, after the regular dialyzes, James was stable, a clear indication that Mike should trust God in His Wisdom and allow James to proceed with the recommended treatment. Agreeably, Bogue et al. (2020) quoting the scriptures indicates that God is the giver of Wisdom and Understanding and works in ways humans cannot understand. Their only part of acting is trust in His providence and employ reasoning and conscience in their decision-making processes.

Role of Spiritual Needs Assessment for the Physician in giving Appropriate Treatment

The physician can illustrate and emphasize the significance of intersecting medical intervention and the patient’s spiritual needs. While the more significant percentage of Christians perceive medicine and faith as contradictory concepts, the physician can use the spiritual needs assessment to demonstrate that science and faith have the same origin, God (Timmins & Caldera, 2017; Lindgren & Kethcart, 2016). For this reason, they are instead corresponding principles. In other cases, the physician can use the available assessment tools for identifying the patient’s needs to indicate whether the patient could be suffering spiritual distress. This can result in their thinking constraining the patient to change from a negative outlook to a positive one and thus acquire a better quality of life.

Further, using the HOPE questions tool for a patient’s spiritual needs assessment, James’s nephrologists can ask questions to understand the breadth of their spiritual understand, and develop appropriate intervention measures. For example, it seems James’s parent highly regard the body as the temple of God’s Spirit and would not wish that any harm comes to their child; hence fail in upholding the requirements of their faith. Timmins & Caldeira (2017) suggests that the physician can remind the parents that God works through human instrumentalities to fulfill His purpose. James’s condition, having improved upon undergoing the regular dialyzes, the physician may well demonstrate that the kidney transplant can result in better and worthwhile recovery. Human life, according to the Christian Worldview is regarded as priceless, and therefore, instead of making another decision with the leap of faith without action, whose outcome could be more detrimental, administering the most appropriate together, conjoined with prayer, and trust in God is the best decision for to be upheld for the patient.


On balance, the significance of assessing a patient’s spiritual need with regards to the Christian Worldview is depicted as an integral approach to achieving the more desired quality care and worthwhile recovery. The paper has analyzed the case study involving James, a patient diagnosed with acute glomerulonephritis, kidney failure. Markedly, the striking balance between Medical care and a patient’s religious affiliation and beliefs is emphasized, and the need to perform a patient’s spiritual needs assessments is demonstrated. Indeed, what one thinks, so they become.


Austin, P., Macleod, R., Siddall, P., McSherry, W., & Egan, R. (2017). Spiritual care training is needed for clinical and non-clinical staff to manage patients’ spiritual needs. Journal for the Study of Spirituality7(1), 50-63.

Bogue, D., Hogan, M., White, N., Hoehner, P., Self, C., & Evans, K. (2020). Practicing Dignity: An Introduction to Christian Values and Decision Making in Health Care (1st Ed.). Phoenix: Grand Canyon University.

Lindgren, K., & Kethcart, A. (2016). Breaking Down Barriers: The Intersection of Medicine and Faith.

Timmins, F., & Caldeira, S. (2017) a. Assessing the spiritual needs of patients. Nursing Standard (2014+)31(29), 47.

Timmins, F., & Caldeira, S. (2017) b. Understanding spirituality and spiritual care in nursing. Nursing Standard31(22).