Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Is God Welcome on Rounds?

In coming to know values and best interests, physicians need to have a sense of a patient’s religious faith. Indeed, not knowing can complicate care decisions. But is there benefit to a patient knowing a physician’s religious beliefs? Or is such knowledge unhelpful and even burdensome?
The Chicago Tribune sheds light on the questions with an insightful look at the Program on Medicine and Religion at the University of Chicago.

Richard Sloan, professor of behavioral medicine at Columbia University and author of "Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine," says “there’s too much at risk” to bring the physician’s religion into the relationship with the patient. "No matter how smart patients are, they're still subordinate in a relationship with a physician," Sloan says.

And yet for some physicians, religious faith can’t help but inform care provided. “What's not straightforward is how you help people maintain happiness when they're hit with a devastating illness," says Dr. Alex Lickerman, a practicing Buddhist and physician at the University of Chicago. "It's more real and more satisfying as I've continued in my Buddhist practice. My interest in really helping people not just with their physical symptoms has really expanded. My desire has redefined itself."

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