Background: Little is known about how often patients desire and experience discussions with hospital personnel regarding R/S (religion and spirituality) or what effects such discussions have on patient satisfaction. OBJECTIVE, DESIGN AND PARTICIPANTS: We examined data from the University of Chicago Hospitalist Study, which gathers sociodemographic and clinical information from all consenting general internal medicine patients at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Main measures: Primary outcomes were whether or not patients desired to have their religious or spiritual concerns addressed while hospitalized, whether or not anyone talked to them about religious and spiritual issues, and which member of the health care team spoke with them about these issues. Primary predictors were patients' ratings of their religious attendance, their efforts to carry their religious beliefs over into other dealings in life, and their spirituality.
Key results: Forty-one percent of inpatients desired a discussion of R/S concerns while hospitalized, but only half of those reported having such a discussion. Overall, 32% of inpatients reported having a discussion of their R/S concerns. Religious patients and those experiencing more severe pain were more likely both to desire and to have discussions of spiritual concerns. Patients who had discussions of R/S concerns were more likely to rate their care at the highest level on four different measures of patient satisfaction, regardless of whether or not they said they had desired such a discussion (odds ratios 1.4-2.2, 95% confidence intervals 1.1-3.0).
Conclusions: These data suggest that many more inpatients desire conversations about R/S than have them. Health care professionals might improve patients' overall experience with being hospitalized and patient satisfaction by addressing this unmet patient need.