About the Spirituality, Medicine, and Health Bibliography Site

About the bibliography

The Spirituality, Medicine, and Health Bibliography site contains a detailed bibliography of books and articles in a wide range of specialties under the general area of spirituality, medicine, and health. Information is current as of January 1, 2012. The first version of the bibliography was created by Connor Wood, Eric Dorman, and Joel Daniels, students of Boston University's Spirituality, Medicine, and Health seminar, in the Fall of 2009. The second version was created by Jenn Lindsay, Derrick Muwina, Stephanie Riley, and Lawrence A. Whitney, students in the same seminar in Fall 2011.

You may freely use this material for bibliographic research. If you distribute it or make reference to it, please properly acknowledge the source, which means citing both the website (http://people.bu.edu/wwildman/smhbib/) and the original authors. The home site for this bibliography is the Spirituality, Medicine, and Health pages. The editor's site (Wesley Wildman's WeirdWildWeb) includes many other resources for the study of theology and religion, and rewards exploration.

Tips for using the bibliography

The annotated bibliography is hundreds of pages long with well over 3,000 items. Most people will only be interested in certain sections of the bibliography. To support more specialized interests, the bibliography's categories are displayed in the left pane and bibliography entries in the right pane. Click a category to display the matching entries. When you click on a major category, all of the entries from all subcategories within that category are displayed.

On the construction of the bibliography

Before the publication of this bibliography, no single source existed that allowed both researchers and interested members of the general public to explore the depths of spirituality, medicine, and health. Thus, the impetus for constructing this bibliography was the desire to create an accessible yet comprehensive and consolidated source for such material.

The first step in creating the bibliography was to set up an outline to guide our compilation. The initial outline was significantly different than the one presently employed, but it provided us with a sturdy foundation. We selected three areas of focus: historical/philosophical background of various world traditions of spirituality and healing; contemporary research; and implications for the integration of spiritual-based practices with the modern biomedical framework. With these in mind, we began our research and compilation, filling out subsections we had presupposed and creating new subsections we had not considered. Thus, from the three original sections blossomed multiple subsections that resulted in the present form of the outline.

Searching for relevant sources and culling them from the immense amount of material available took some trial and error, but we quickly formulated a system with the overall goals of the bibliography in mind. The process of finding sources began with a rather haphazard reach into the abyss of scholarly knowledge. Using a variety of online databases (ATLA Religious Database, Elsevier, JSTOR, Oxford Journals, PubMed, PSYinfo, and ScienceDirect), our initial searches were broad and all-encompassing, such as “Spirituality, Medicine, and Health.” While we were in awe of the amount of material available, we were able to consolidate our searches with a better understanding of what sort of material was out there, and searches began to take on a more specific character. In terms of historical and philosophical background, we searched (“Ayurved*” AND “Indian Philosophy”); in the contemporary research we searched (“religious experiences” AND “neuroscience”); and in the integrative research we searched (“biomedical ethics” AND “qi”), to note a few examples. Once we established a working knowledge base, we were also able to cull sources by plugging in names of scholars or medical researchers who were known to deal mainly with spirituality, medicine, and health. Finally, we combed through the bibliographies of certain sources that had been well received and often cited in order to fill out our bibliography and assure its comprehensiveness. We are greatly in debt to the Zotero bibliographic software for allowing us to search, extract, and compile our individual work into a communal database, from which the final bibliography was taken.

Even with our goal of comprehensiveness, the sheer amount of material available on the integrative topic of spirituality, medicine, and health obliged us to establish certain principles to guide the selection of sources and their categorization within our outline. We selected sources based on criteria of relevance, quality of design, timeliness, and originality, though we gave conceptual “wiggle room” for each criteria. The source obviously had to be relevant to the greater integrative topic, but in an effort to allow the bibliography to appeal to non-specialized parties we also included sources that provided expansive background information on, for example, medicine in the Western traditions. Quality of design was important, especially in scientific sources, but weight was shifted to include mediocre quality sources if they covered a unique topic within our sections. For the most part we tried to limit our sources to the last three decades, but some sources that were considered important historically were included. Finally, while redundancy was generally avoided, multiple sources that had been significantly cited were included due to their prominence.

Regarding the organization within the outline, in the interest of making the bibliography as useful as possible to those looking for information on ways to use spirituality as a healing modality, we leaned toward listing the medical entries under the specific conditions to which they referred, as opposed to privileging the organization of sources by more abstract concepts. Also in order to be more helpful to scientific researchers, specific conditions and treatments generally took precedence over demographic categorization. However, these considerations were dependent on the emphasis of the source itself. For example, in a hypothetical article about meditation among African-Americans for treatment of hypertension, the authors may barely mention that the participants were African-American and focus instead on the methods used for meditation. In this case, the article would be categorized under “Meditation.” On the other hand, if the authors made the participants' ethnicity a major focal point for their interpretations of results, it would be placed under "Culturally Specific."

The first version of the bibliography resulting from these guidelines reflects an equal effort from the three compilers, and a similarly equal effort from all contributors produced the second version. It is our sincere hope that it will be a useful source for further research and progress in the field of spirituality, medicine, and health.

A note on Digital Object Identifiers (doi)

A number of the sources in this bibliography are followed by a “doi” link. The doi system is used to uniquely identify intellectual property online; the doi is roughly equivalent to an ISBN for a book. If you are browsing under a licensed proxy, you will be able to follow the link under the citation directly to more information on the article, including the abstract and often the full article itself.