Doctors' Religious Beliefs Affect How They Provide End-Of-Life Care, Study Finds

CNN: "A doctor's own religious practice can become quite relevant to patient care, especially when end-of-life issues come into play. A new study finds that doctors who are not religious are more likely to take steps to help end a very sick patient's life, and to discuss these kinds of decisions, than doctors who are very religious. The study, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, surveyed more than 8,500 doctors in the United Kingdom across a wide range of specialties such as neurology, palliative care, and general practice" (Landau, 8/26).

ABC News: "Past research suggests that a patient's faith influences the type of care they request, but the ultimate outcome depends on a collaborative effort between both the patient and the doctor, according to Holly Prigerson, director of the center for psycho-oncology and palliative care research at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston" (Neale and Salahi, 8/26).

Bloomberg Business Week: Study author Clive Seale "found that those doctors who focused on elder care were somewhat more likely to be Asian and to identify as Hindu or Muslim. Those in palliative care were more likely to be white, identify as Christian, and describe themselves as 'religious.' General practitioners, Seale noted, did not appear to be more likely to hold strong religious beliefs in general. ... Although ethnicity did not seem to play a significant role in the decision-making process regarding controversial ethical issues, in general white physicians (who were the largest group) were the least likely to describe themselves as having strong religious beliefs and the most likely to support legal changes that allow for physician participation in assisted-dying scenarios" (Mozes, 8/26).

CBS News: "What's certainly clear is patients will receive very different recommendations in hospitals than they would in special end of life facilities. The ultimate lesson, the researchers say, is it's important to understand your doctor's values and make sure they are in line with your own" (Katz, 8/26).

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