Background: Physicians rarely question patients about their religious beliefs. This lack of inquiry may be contrary to patients' wishes and detrimental to patient care. This study examines whether patients want physicians to discuss religious beliefs with them.
Methods: Two hundred three family practice adult inpatients at two hospitals were interviewed regarding their views on the relationship between religion and health.
Results: Many patients expressed positive attitudes toward physician involvement in spiritual issues. Seventy-seven percent said physicians should consider patients' spiritual needs, 37% wanted their physicians to discuss religious beliefs with them more frequently, and 48% wanted their physicians to pray with them. However, 68% said their physician had never discussed religious beliefs with them.
Conclusions: This study supports the hypothesis that although many patients desire more frequent and more in-depth discussions about religious issues with their physicians, physicians generally do not discuss these issues with their patients.