Aspects of spirituality in medical doctors and their relation to specific views of illness and dealing with their patients' individual situation

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:734392. doi: 10.1155/2013/734392. Epub 2013 Jul 17.

Abstract

We intended to analyse which aspects of spirituality are of relevance for medical doctors in a mostly secular society and how their spiritual/religious attitudes are related to specific views of illness, their dealing with patients' individual situation, and finally physicians' life satisfaction. Data from an anonymous survey enrolling 237 medical doctors from Germany (mean age 45.7 ± 9.6, 58% male, 42% female) indicated that secular forms of spirituality scored highest, while specific religious orientation had the lowest scores. Physicians with a specific specialization in complementary/alternative medicine (CAM) or anthroposophic medicine differed from their conventional counterparts with respect to specific aspects of spirituality; however, the specific views associated with these specialisations were only weakly to moderately correlated with physicians' view on the meaning of illness and how they assume that they would deal with their patients' individual situation. Of interest, the specific aspects of spirituality were negatively correlated with the view of "illness as a meaningless interruption" of life, indicating that physicians with a spiritual attitude would see illness also as a chance for an "individual development" and associated with a "biographical meaning" rather than just a "useless interruption" of life.