1. In this study, 24 dimensions of spirituality were identified, with the most common being related to the connectedness and meaning of life.
2. Overall, a new spiritual framework was created, such that spirituality was defined as being composed of three axes/domains.
Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)
Spirituality has been included as part of the concept of health by the World Health Organization in part for its influence on both mental and physical health outcomes. However, recent articles on the topic have introduced new dimensions to the term, preventing a thorough understanding of which dimensions have a greater influence on health. As a result, the present systematic review sought to identify the main dimensions of spirituality and propose a framework that would operationalize the understanding of spirituality.
From 441 screened articles, 166 studies up to October 2020 were included. Studies in any language were included if they addressed the meaning, concept or definition of spirituality. Exclusion criteria consisted of studies that were not related to the definition of spirituality or that did not present a new concept or operational definition about spirituality. The resulting studies were analyzed to identify which dimensions were presented and were further operationalized.
After data synthesis, there were 24 dimensions of spirituality identified with the most common being meaning/purpose (51.80%). These dimensions were used to create a new spirituality framework incorporating beliefs, practices, experiences, the ways in which individuals express them, and how it leads to the development of values and positive inner feelings. The present study was limited by the inclusion of only one database which limited the comprehensiveness of the search strategy. Nonetheless, the study results allowed for a more comprehensive framework for spirituality that may facilitate future research to be less prone to subjective interpretation.
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