Medical student and patient attitudes toward religion and spirituality in the recovery process

Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 1996 Nov;22(4):549-61. doi: 10.3109/00952999609001680.


This study compares the views on spirituality of dually diagnosed patients (diagnosed with both substance abuse and general psychiatric disorders) and medical students in order to investigate their respective orientations toward spirituality and their views of the importance of spirituality in the treatment of addiction. We administered a modified version of Feagin's "Orientation to Life and God Scale" to assess religious and spiritual orientation in both the patients and students. A second series of items was developed and administered in order to compare the patients' and students' perceptions of the relative importance of a religious and spiritual orientation in substance abuse treatment. A third series of items was also given to compare the nature of religious and health-related services on the inpatient unit that patients and students most wanted to see improved. We found that the medical students responsible for treating substance abuse are significantly less religiously and spirituality oriented than the patients they treat, and that the students do not indicate that spirituality is an important component in the care of these patients. It may be clinically relevant to train medical students in the potential importance of spirituality in addiction treatment so that they can incorporate spirituality into the treatment of addictions.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude*
  • Culture
  • Curriculum
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)*
  • Education, Medical
  • Factor Analysis, Statistical
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / psychology
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Social Values
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Students, Medical*
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Treatment Outcome