Objective: To assess the attitudes of general and orthopaedic surgical outpatients regarding inquiry into their religious beliefs, spiritual practices, and personal faith.
Design: Prospective, voluntary, self-administered, and anonymously-completed questionnaire, regarding religious beliefs, spiritual practices, and personal faith, March-August, 2009.
Setting: General and orthopaedic surgical outpatient settings, Health Services Foundation, College of Medicine, University of South Alabama, a tertiary care academic medical center in Mobile, Alabama.
Participants: All patients referred for evaluation and management of general and orthopaedic surgical conditions, pre- and postoperatively, were approached.
Methodology: The questionnaire solicited data regarding patient: (1) demographics; (2) religious beliefs, spiritual practices, and personal faith; and (3) opinions regarding inquiry into those subjects by their surgeon. The latter opinions were stratified on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree." Statistical analysis was conducted using software JMP(®) 8 Statistical Discovery Software (S.A.S. Institute Inc., Cary, North Carolina) and a 5% probability level was used to determine significance of results.
Results: Eighty-three percent (83%) of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that surgeons should be aware of their patients' religiosity and spirituality; 63% concurred that surgeons should take a spiritual history; and 64% indicated that their trust in their surgeon would increase if they did so. Nevertheless, 17%, 37%, and 36% disagreed or strongly disagreed with those perspectives, respectively.
Conclusions: By inference to the best explanation of the results, we would argue that religiosity and spirituality are inherent perspectives of patient-surgeon relationships. Consequently, those perspectives are germane to the therapeutic milieu. Therefore, discerning each patient's perspective in those regards is warranted in the context of an integrative and holistic patient-surgeon relationship, the intent of which is to restore a patient to health and well-being.
Copyright © 2011 Association of Program Directors in Surgery. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.