Physicians' observations and interpretations of the influence of religion and spirituality on health.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: In spite of a substantial body of empirical data, professional disagreement persists regarding whether and how religion and spirituality (hereinafter "R/S" and treated as a single concept) influences health. This study examines the association between physicians' religious characteristics and their observations and interpretations of the influence of R/S on health. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey was mailed to a stratified, random sample of 2000 practicing US physicians from all specialties. Physicians were asked to estimate how often patients mention R/S issues, how much R/S influences health, and in what ways the influence is manifested. RESULTS: The response rate was 63%. Most physicians (56%) believed that R/S had much or very much influence on health, but few (6%) believed that R/S often changed "hard" medical outcomes. Rather, most physicians believed that R/S (1) often helps patients to cope (76%), (2) gives patients a positive state of mind (75%), and (3) provides emotional and practical support via the religious community (55%). Compared with those with low religiosity, physicians with high religiosity are substantially more likely to (1) report that patients often mention R/S issues (36% vs 11%)(P<.001); (2) believe that R/S strongly influences health (82% vs 16%) (P<.001); and (3) interpret the influence of R/S in positive rather than negative ways. CONCLUSION: Patients are likely to encounter quite different opinions about the relationship between their R/S and their health, depending on the religious characteristics of their physicians.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Curlin, FA; Sellergren, SA; Lantos, JD; Chin, MH

Published Date

  • April 9, 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 167 / 7

Start / End Page

  • 649 - 654

PubMed ID

  • 17420422

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC2867458

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-9926

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1001/archinte.167.7.649


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States