Original Research: HTS Historical Thought and Source Interpretation

Addressing physical pain with religion and spirituality during and after the COVID-19 pandemic

Annemarie E. Oberholzer
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 78, No 4 | a7393 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v78i4.7393 | © 2022 Annemarie E. Oberholzer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 January 2022 | Published: 04 August 2022

About the author(s)

Annemarie E. Oberholzer, Department of Christian Spirituality, College of Human Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is associated with various painful symptoms and could potentially lead to a significant increase in patients experiencing chronic pain. While churches had to close their doors during the pandemic, emerging scientific data suggest that, when our spiritual needs are not met, our well-being can be in jeopardy, and it could also increase the experience of physical pain. The aim of this article is, therefore, to explore the role that spirituality and religion could play in addressing physical pain. An interdisciplinary approach is used with the goal of integrating different insights so as to construct a more comprehensive understanding of the problem. Literature in the disciplines of humanities, health sciences, as well as social sciences is explored to identify the concepts of physical, social and spiritual pain and to explore the link between the different dimensions of pain. It became clear that physical, social, and spiritual pain can influence one another, and addressing one kind of pain can also improve pain in another dimension. Several spiritual and religious interventions were found in the literature and confirmed to be valuable in helping patients cope with physical pain, such as accepting and giving meaning to pain, prayer, meditation, scripture, music, support from the religious community and helping others.

Contribution: This article highlights the importance of an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates religion and/or spirituality to address physical pain during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.


Keywords

religion; spirituality; health; physical pain; spiritual pain; social pain

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