Background: Most physicians do not address spiritual and religious issues with patients, although there are data documenting the relationship between religious variables and disease, health, and well-being. The purpose of this study was twofold: to examine patient attitudes regarding physician-directed inquiry about issues related to spiritual matters and faith; and to identify screening variables that would identify patients who would be receptive to such a discussion.
Methods: A Spiritual and Religious Inquiry (SRI) questionnaire was administered to patients presenting for care in a family practice center.
Results: Patients' frequency of religious service attendance (at least monthly) predicted their acceptance of physician inquiry into their religion and personal faith (P < .01) and acceptance of physician referral to pastoral professionals for spiritual problems (P < .01).
Conclusions: This study supports the use of frequency of religious service attendance as a screening variable for patients receptive to physician-directed inquiry into religious and spiritual issues. It also confirms that patients are accepting of physicians' referring patients to pastoral professionals (ie, clergy) for spiritual problems.