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Do Religious Beliefs Influence Medical Practice?

Discussion in 'Doctors Cafe' started by bart, Sep 7, 2019.

  1. bart

    bart Active member

    Aug 25, 2019
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    The medical profession in the United States seems to be divided not only based on attitudes about controversial issues such as euthanasia, abortion or birth control in adolescents, but also on the criteria on what doctors should do when patients request a legal medical procedure with which they disagree due to their beliefs or opinions.

    A study by the University of Chicago on a group of 2,000 practicing physicians in the US health system has discovered to what extent religious beliefs affect medical practice.

    The study reveals that 14% of patients (more than 40 million Americans) are being treated by medical professionals who do not believe in the obligation to reveal information about all available treatments, particularly those questioned by different religious beliefs. In addition, 29% of patients (about 100 million Americans) are treated by doctors who do not feel obliged to refer patients to other doctors willing to treat them without religious conditioning.

    The researchers sent a 12-page questionnaire by e-mail to 2,000 doctors of all specialties, to which 1,144 (63%) answered.

    The questionnaire asked doctors if they objected to three controversial clinical practices. Only 17% were against terminal sedation (which consists of sedating dying patients until unconsciousness), but 42% disagreed with prescribing birth control to adolescents without parental consent, and 52 % objected against abortion, in case of contraception failure.

    The answers were closely related to sex, religion and the opinions of the respondents. Male doctors (particularly Catholics and Protestants) and those who disagreed with the controversial medical practices tended more to believe that doctors should expose their objections to patients, while they had to present all options or refer them to doctors willing to apply these types of treatments.

    While 86% felt compelled to present the possible options, 6% were undecided, and another 8% thought that was not their responsibility. 63% thought it was ethical to state clearly why they did not want to apply the required procedures.

    18% did not feel obliged to refer the patient to other doctors, and 11% were hesitant about this possibility. The results indicate that doctors' beliefs are often not abandoned in medical practice, but influence it.

    This situation creates an important dilemma within today's American society, because doctors and patients come from different moral, religious and secular traditions, which sometimes do not coincide with each other about whether a particular medical intervention is morally acceptable.


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