In order to care for the patient's religious needs the Nurse needs to be able to understand that religion in more detail.

Human Beings are social creatures, and they are always part of the larger community. When illness strikes the effected person is often removed from his/her community to be treated and cared for in a specialized area. It may be an Asylum, a General Hospital, a Psychiatric Care Facility, a Group Home or a Nursing Home. Religious Leaders / Priests / Ministers / Mullahs / Monks are religious people who are specialized to offer support to “followers” of those faiths during “illnesses and emotional crises”. During difficult times these individuals may be contacted to provide adjunct emotional support and encouragement. Many studies show that religious patients benefit from visits by religious leaders.

This article is about 10 major religious groups. It describes the main principles and beliefs of these religions. I must state that within each major religious group there are variations and in such situations the Lay Minister may be contacted (in NT in Australia) and he will then act as the provider of religious care until the appropriate leader can be contacted.

It is the Nurses' responsibility to offer to contact the religious leader and to help make arrangements for his/her visit. The names of the religious leaders are given under the appropriate religion.

For the purposes of Nurse Education, Religion is defined as “any specific system of belief about deity, often involving rituals, a code of ethics, and a philosophy of life”. Many other definitions exist but this is chosen because it includes all the monotheistic religions, Eastern Religions, Neopaganism and a broad range of different faith groups, spiritual paths, ethical systems; and faith systems.

Nine of the most abundant religions of the world, by percentage of global are shown in the as pie graph below. There are many other religions and belief systems. The practicing Registered Nurse must evaluate the patients specific religion and subgroup to meet the patients religious needs. If the patient is unable to communicate then the Nurse must make the contact and arrange for the religious leader to help deal with the difficult situation.

Given below are the percentages and numbers of followers of each religion in order of popularity. Chrisatianty is placed first because it is the most abundant. Islam is the second most popular religion and is placed second. This list is not all-inclusive. Only the top ten religions are included.