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Spiritual Beliefs Part of Health Care for Some
Date:9/11/2008

Most are happy to discuss subject with eye docs, says researcher

THURSDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Although you might expect the eye doctor's office to be the last place you would have a discussion about spirituality, recent research suggests that most people would appreciate such a conversation.

Almost half of those included in the study attended weekly religious services,, and 82 percent felt that prayer was very important to their sense of well-being, according to the study, which was published in the September issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

"Patients were interested in having their physicians ask them about their religion and spirituality. They seemed to crave a personal relationship," said study author Gina Magyar-Russell, an instructor and clinical psychologist in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore.

However, Magyar-Russell said there are two caveats to the study -- one is that it may hold true only for Christians, and the other is that it may hold true only for those with serious eye disease, because the people included in this study were predominantly Christian and most were losing or had poor vision in one or both eyes.

"Spirituality can affect the physical and emotional health of patients in quite significant ways," said Dr. Harold G. Koenig, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center.

"If they don't know about their patients' spirituality, then they're practicing medicine without all of the information they need, because [spirituality] can influence the patient's prognosis and compliance," explained Koenig, who is also co-director of Duke's Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health.

The study included 124 consecutive eye clinic patients who completed a questionnaire that included questions about their spirituality. Sixty percent were being s
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