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

lity on health positive or negative?" was one question. "Considering your experience, how often to you think religion/spirituality causes guilt, anxiety or other negative emotions that lead to increased patient suffering?"

The researchers found that psychiatrists are twice as likely (46% versus 23%) as other physicians to say that patients often mention spiritual issues. They are also much more likely to both say that it is appropriate to ask patients about spiritual concerns (93% vs 53%) and that they do inquire (87% vs 49%).

The differences are striking with respect to the mental health conditions most often encountered by non-psychiatrists. Only 14 percent of non-psychiatrist physicians say they often ask patients suffering from anxiety or depression about spiritual issues, compared to 44 percent of psychiatrists.

"Psychiatrists and non-psychiatrists alike tend to say that the influence of religion on health is generally positive," said Curlin. Almost all physicians agreed that religion and spirituality often give patients a positive, hopeful state of mind. More than 75 percent of psychiatrists and non-psychiatrist agreed that religion "often or always" helps patients cope with their illnesses.

About a third of both groups, however, reported that religion sometimes leads patients not to comply with their doctors' recommendations and to avoid taking responsibility for their own health. Psychiatrists were almost twice as likely as other physicians to say that the influence of religion on health is equally positive and negative (21% versus 12%), and were more likely to say that religion/spirituality sometimes causes guilt, anxiety, or other negative emotions that lead to increased patient suffering (82% versus 44%).

During a clinical encounter, however, psychiatrists appear to be more comfortable talking to their patients about spiritual issues. They are more likely than other physicians to believe it is appropriate for
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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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