Physicians’ Religious Characteristics and Their Perceptions of the Psychological Impact of Patient Prayer and Beliefs at the End of Life

A National Survey

Kathryn Thompson, Hyo Jung Tak, Magdy El-Din, Syed Madani, Simon G. Brauer, John D. Yoon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Physicians who are more religious or spiritual may report more positive perceptions regarding the link between religious beliefs/practices and patients’ psychological well-being. Methods: We conducted a secondary data analysis of a 2010 national survey of US physicians from various specialties (n = 1156). Respondents answered whether the following patient behaviors had a positive or negative effect on the psychological well-being of patients at the end of life: (1) praying frequently, (2) believing in divine judgment, and (3) expecting a miraculous healing. We also asked respondents how comfortable they are talking with patients about death. Results: Eighty-five percent of physicians believed that patients’ prayer has a positive psychological impact, 51% thought that patients’ belief in divine judgment has a positive psychological impact, and only 17% of physicians thought the same with patients’ expectation of a miraculous healing. Opinions varied based on physicians’ religious and spiritual characteristics. Furthermore, 52% of US physicians appear to feel very comfortable discussing death with patients, although end-of-life specialists, Hindu physicians, and spiritual physicians were more likely to report feeling very comfortable discussing death (adjusted odds ratio range: 1.82-3.00). Conclusion: US physicians hold divided perceptions of the psychological impact of patients’ religious beliefs/practices at the end of life, although they more are likely to believe that frequent prayer has a positive psychological impact for patients. Formal training in spiritual care may significantly improve the number of religion/spirituality conversations with patients at the end of life and help doctors understand and engage patients’ religious practices and beliefs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018

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Religion
Psychology
Physicians
Surveys and Questionnaires
Spirituality
Emotions
Odds Ratio

Keywords

  • end of life
  • national survey
  • psychological well-being
  • religion
  • spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

Physicians’ Religious Characteristics and Their Perceptions of the Psychological Impact of Patient Prayer and Beliefs at the End of Life : A National Survey. / Thompson, Kathryn; Tak, Hyo Jung; El-Din, Magdy; Madani, Syed; Brauer, Simon G.; Yoon, John D.

In: American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 01.01.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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abstract = "Background: Physicians who are more religious or spiritual may report more positive perceptions regarding the link between religious beliefs/practices and patients’ psychological well-being. Methods: We conducted a secondary data analysis of a 2010 national survey of US physicians from various specialties (n = 1156). Respondents answered whether the following patient behaviors had a positive or negative effect on the psychological well-being of patients at the end of life: (1) praying frequently, (2) believing in divine judgment, and (3) expecting a miraculous healing. We also asked respondents how comfortable they are talking with patients about death. Results: Eighty-five percent of physicians believed that patients’ prayer has a positive psychological impact, 51{\%} thought that patients’ belief in divine judgment has a positive psychological impact, and only 17{\%} of physicians thought the same with patients’ expectation of a miraculous healing. Opinions varied based on physicians’ religious and spiritual characteristics. Furthermore, 52{\%} of US physicians appear to feel very comfortable discussing death with patients, although end-of-life specialists, Hindu physicians, and spiritual physicians were more likely to report feeling very comfortable discussing death (adjusted odds ratio range: 1.82-3.00). Conclusion: US physicians hold divided perceptions of the psychological impact of patients’ religious beliefs/practices at the end of life, although they more are likely to believe that frequent prayer has a positive psychological impact for patients. Formal training in spiritual care may significantly improve the number of religion/spirituality conversations with patients at the end of life and help doctors understand and engage patients’ religious practices and beliefs.",
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