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Psychiatrists: Least religious but most interested in patients' religion
Date:12/10/2007

Although psychiatrists are among the least religious physicians, they seem to be the most interested in the religious and spiritual dimensions of their patients, according to survey data published in the December issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Ever since Freud described religious faith as an illusion and a neurosis there has been tension and at times hostility between religion and psychiatry. Psychiatrists are less religious on average than other physicians, according to previously published data from the same survey, and non-psychiatrist physicians who are religious are less willing to refer their patients to psychiatrists.

This report found that although they may be less religious than other physicians, psychiatrists appear to be more comfortable and have more experience addressing religious or spiritual concerns in the clinical setting.

"Recent efforts have begun to bridge the divide between religion and psychiatry," said study author Farr Curlin, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. "In the past, manuals of psychiatry tended to identify religiosity with mental illness. Now they distinguish normal religious and spiritual ideas and behaviors from those that result from mental illness."

"Moreover," he added, "several recent studies have found that religiosity is often associated with improved mental health outcomes such as quicker recovery from depression. Now most training programs teach developing psychiatrists about the potentially beneficial influence of religion and spirituality on patients' mental health."

For this paper, the researchers examined results from a survey of 100 psychiatrists and 1,044 non-psychiatrists from across the United States. Respondents were asked their opinions about the relationship between religion and health and about how they address religious and spiritual issues in their clinical practices.

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Contact: John Easton
John.Easton@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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