Purpose: Ninety percent of American adults believe in God and 82% pray weekly. A majority wants their physicians to address spirituality during their health care visit. However, clinicians incorporate spiritual discussion in less than 20% of visits. Our objectives were to measure clinician beliefs and identify perceived barriers to integrating spirituality into patient care in a statewide, primary care, managed care group.
Methods: Practitioners completed a 30-item survey including demographics and religious involvement (DUREL), spirituality in patient care (SPC), and barriers (BAR). We analyzed data using frequencies, means, standard deviations, and ANOVA.
Findings: Clinicians had a range of religious denominations (67% Christian, 14% Jewish, 11% Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist, 8% agnostic), were 57% female and 24% had training in spirituality. Sixty-six percent reported experiencing the divine. Ninety-five percent felt that a patient's spiritual outlook was important to handling health difficulties and 68% percent agreed that addressing spirituality was part of the physician's role. Ninety-five percent of our managed care group noted 'lack of time' as an important barrier, 'lack of training' was indicated by 69%, and 21% cited 'fear of response from administration'.
Conclusions: Managed care practitioners in a time constrained setting were spiritual themselves and believed this to be important to patients. Respondents indicated barriers of time and training to implementing these beliefs. Comparing responses from our group to those in other published surveys on clinician spirituality, we find similar concerns. Clinician education may overcome these barriers and improve ability to more fully meet their patients' expressed needs regarding spirituality and beliefs.