Commentary: A case for studying the relationship between religion and the practice of medicine.
A growing literature on the religious characteristics of health care professionals raises questions about how clinicians' religious traditions and commitments shape their clinical practices. Because medicine is a moral practice, theological and philosophical ideas are operative in any self-conscious application of medical science. As such, disagreements about morally controversial medical interventions are likely to be particularly visible expressions of deeper disagreements about the means and ends of medicine. This commentary argues for systematic study of religion-associated variations in clinicians' clinical practices, and it proposes a framework for how that research might be carried out. Increased professional attention to the intersection of religion and the practice of medicine may enrich doctor-patient communication by stimulating physicians to be more self-conscious and candid about the intersection of their religious commitments and their practices. In addition, by raising such issues from beneath the surface of "evidence-based" or "patient-centered" medicine, such attention may foster policy solutions that permit peaceable and conscientious coexistence of those who disagree.
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