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Psychiatrists are the least religious of all physicians
Date:9/3/2007

nd measures of what the researchers called intrinsic religiositythe extent to which individuals embrace their religion as the "master motive that guides and gives meaning to their life."

Although 61 percent of all American physicians were either Protestant (39%) or Catholic (22%), only 37 percent of psychiatrists were Protestant (27%) or Catholic (10%). Twenty-nine percent were Jewish, compared to 13 percent of all physicians. Seventeen percent of psychiatrists listed their religion as "none," compared to only 10 percent of all doctors.

Curlin's survey also included this brief vignette, designed to present "ambiguous symptoms of psychological distress" as way measure the willingness of physicians to refer patients to psychiatrists.

"A patient presents to you with continued deep grieving two months after the death of his wife. If you were to refer the patient, to which of the following would you prefer to refer first" (a psychiatrist or psychologist, a clergy member or religious counselor, a health care chaplain, or other)."

Overall, 56 percent of physicians indicated they would refer such a patient to a psychiatrist or psychologist, 25 percent to a clergy member or other religious counselor, 7 percent to a health care chaplain and 12 percent to someone else.

Although Protestant physicians were only half as likely to send the patient to a psychiatrist, Jewish physicians were more likely to do so. Least likely were highly religious Protestants who attended church at least twice a month and looked to God for guidance "a great deal or quite a lot."

"Patients probably seek out, to some extent, physicians who share their views on lifes big questions," Curlin said. That may be especially true in psychiatry, where communication is so essential. The mismatch in religious beliefs between psychiatrists and patients may make it difficult for patients suffering from emotional or personal problems to find physicians who sh
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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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