Physicians and Patients’ Spirituality

Introductory note–In this series of op-ed articles, three authors explore a range of perspectives on the question of whether physicians should engage patients on the topic of spirituality.

Read it all.


Posted in * Culture-Watch, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture

3 comments on “Physicians and Patients’ Spirituality

  1. Br. Michael says:

    There is spirituality and then there is Christian spirituality. A Wiccan n is spiritual and I don’t want them anywhere near me.

  2. Teatime2 says:

    No, I don’t want a physician to engage in spiritual dialogue with me. Down here in the South, that can often mean spiritual warfare. I have been approached by members of the Assembly of God, Church of Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses and various flavors of Pentecostalism and non-denoms. All of them claimed, of course, that their way was the true way and those who didn’t accept that were to be pitied and quite possibly condemned for eternity. Whatever.

    I have heard about how the previous rheumatologist told his patients that if they weren’t improving then it meant their faith was deficient and weak. Lovely. Apparently, he didn’t consider the possibility that their lack of improvement might have meant he wasn’t a very good doctor, hahahaha.

  3. Clueless says:

    I usually do not engage patients in discussions on Christianity, unless they bring up the subject (which is rare).

    If I have a long relationship with a patient who is dying (eg with ALS or something) I do ask about their spiritual life (as part of asking them about activities of daily living), and I suggest that going back to church is helpful in improving mood, and I also tell them about some of my personal spiritual experiences which is why I have no doubt that heaven is real. So far, most people have been comforted, and are less afraid of dying afterwards, and nobody has gotten mad at me.

    I have spoken with/prayed with people who were not dying twice. Both were troubled with scary hallucinations and were in psychiatric care which was not helping. We looked for other neurological causes for hallucinations (such as sleep disorders, or brain tumors or seizures and none such were present). Both patients had been involved in Wicca. I advised them that I could find no neurological cause of their hallucinations, and that they should continue with psychiatry and I asked if they would mind if I prayed with them. Then I simply prayed with them that God would protect them, and take away their hallucinations, shield them from evil and make known to them how dearly He loved them. Neither got mad, but neither came back and I do not know what happened to them.