Doctors' attentiveness to the spirituality/religion of their patients in pediatric and oncology settings in the Northwest USA

J Health Care Chaplain. 2013;19(4):140-64. doi: 10.1080/08854726.2013.829692.


Research indicates that spirituality/religion is important to many patients and they want this to be an integrated component of their care. This study's aim was to better understand doctors' attentiveness to patients'/families' spiritual/religious concerns and the contributing factors for this in the Northwest USA as well as doctor's attitudes about referrals to chaplains. Study participants included 108 pediatricians and oncologists who completed an online self-report questionnaire regarding their beliefs about the health relevance of patients' spirituality/religion and their attentiveness to this. Few doctors routinely addressed this concern. Doctors who were Christian, did not expect negative reactions to inquiring, and were knowledgeable regarding chaplains were more likely to address spirituality/religion. Doctors who felt less adequate in addressing spirituality/religion and were concerned about patients negative reactions were less likely to value referral to chaplains. On the other hand, those who had an understanding regarding chaplains were more likely to support referral.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attention*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Chaplaincy Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology
  • Middle Aged
  • Northwestern United States
  • Pediatrics
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Physicians / statistics & numerical data
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Spirituality*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires