Effects of a 12-month educational intervention on outpatient clinicians' attitudes and behaviors concerning spiritual practices with patients.

Published online

Journal Article

OBJECTIVE: We report here the impact of an educational training program on attitudes and practices of physicians (MDs) and mid-level practitioners (MLPs) toward controversial spiritual practices, such as practitioner-led prayer, sharing personal religious beliefs, and encouraging patients' religious beliefs. METHODS: In this single-group experimental study, 427 physicians and 93 MLPs affiliated with the Adventist Health System agreed to complete a questionnaire assessing demographics, practice characteristics, religiosity, and attitudes and behaviors at baseline, 1 month, and 12 months. Changes in attitudes and practices over time were examined and baseline predictors were identified using mixed-effects regression models. RESULTS: For the most part, attitudes regarding praying with patients, sharing faith with patients, and encouraging patients' own religious faith did not change much during the 12-month educational training program. However, significant increases were found in frequency of praying with patients (MDs and MLPs), willingness to pray with patients (MDs), sharing their faith with patients (MDs), and encouraging patient's own religious faith (MDs and MLPs). Among physicians, predictors of praying with patients across time were older age, Christian affiliation, and importance of religion, and among MLPs, they were older age, non-White race, and importance of religion. No interaction between time and religiosity was found. CONCLUSION: Although attitudes toward these mostly controversial practices were largely unaffected, the frequency of praying with patients, sharing faith, and supporting patient's own religious faith increased over time in both religious and nonreligious clinicians. Educational programs of this type may be important in changing clinicians' behaviors regarding appropriate and sensitive engagement in such activities with patients.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Koenig, HG; Perno, K; Hamilton, T

Published Date

  • 2017

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 8 /

Start / End Page

  • 129 - 139

PubMed ID

  • 28210172

Pubmed Central ID

  • 28210172

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1179-7258

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2147/AMEP.S125352


  • eng

Conference Location

  • New Zealand