Religious and Spiritual Beliefs of Physicians

Kristin A. Robinson, Meng Ru Cheng, Patrick D. Hansen, Richard J. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

The aim of this study is to describe religious and spiritual beliefs of physicians and examine their influence on the decision to pursue medicine and daily medical practice. An anonymous survey was e-mailed to physicians at a large, multidisciplinary tertiary referral center with satellite clinics. Data were collected from January 2014 through February 2014. There were 2097 respondents (69.1 % men), and number of practicing years ranged from ≤1 to ≥30. Primary care physicians or medical specialists represented 74.1 %, 23.6 % were in surgical specialties, and 2.3 % were psychiatrists. The majority of physicians believe in God (65.2 %), and 51.2 % reported themselves as religious, 24.8 % spiritual, 12.4 % agnostic, and 11.6 % atheist. This self-designation was largely independent of specialty except for psychiatrists, who were more likely report agnosticism (P = 0.003). In total, 29.0 % reported that religious or spiritual beliefs influenced their decision to become a physician. Frequent prayer was reported by 44.7 % of physicians, but only 20.7 % reported having prayed with patients. Most physicians consider themselves religious or spiritual, but the rates of agnosticism and atheism are higher than the general population. Psychiatrists are the least religious group. Despite the influence of religion on physicians’ lives and medical practice, the majority have not incorporated prayer into patient encounters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - Apr 12 2016

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Keywords

  • Physician religiosity
  • Physician religious beliefs
  • Physician spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Medicine(all)
  • Nursing(all)

Cite this

Robinson, K. A., Cheng, M. R., Hansen, P. D., & Gray, R. J. (Accepted/In press). Religious and Spiritual Beliefs of Physicians. Journal of Religion and Health, 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-016-0233-8