• THE MORAL IMPERATIVE OF ADDRESSING PATIENT RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY IN MEDICINE

      Jones, Nora L. (Temple University. Libraries, 2020)
      The disconnect between physician religious belief and experience and that of their patients is a growing problem in medicine. As physicians shy away from important discussions of their patients’ values, patients begin to drown in the growing medical complexity and feel less respected. Patient ability to drive their own care decisions is reduced when important topics like religious and spiritual beliefs are avoided. In light of the evidence of how religion and spirituality can influence health and medical decision making, physicians have a moral imperative to pursue an understanding of their patients’ belief system based on principle and pragmatism. There are easy tools available to help physicians streamline these patient interactions even when a physician is inexperienced in religious topics. For these reasons and more, it is of critical importance for physicians to no longer shy away from uncomfortable conversations but to pursue human flourishing through more deeply understanding their patients. While several objections may exist to this imperative, none are sufficient to outweigh the importance of this, and there are several tools in the toolbox that can make this process targeted, brief, and valuable. Ultimately, having a basic understanding of the religious views of patients enables physicians to more adequately assess barriers to health, understand key principles at play in medical decision making, and communicate effectively with patients and their families during stressful, life-altering times. Modern medical education allocates very few resources to training medical students to address patient beliefs, resulting in provider avoidance of religious conversations that are fundamental to patient health.