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Monday, May 1, 2017

Doctors’ Religions, Spirituality, Influence on Patients (Research, Video 2:31)


So much medical focus is placed on doctors, it’s easy to forget that they are people just like everybody else. They come into the world and evolve while embracing various ideas and philosophies that mold them into the people they are at any given time. Religion and spirituality can play important roles in their becoming doctors and in their everyday decisions. Do most doctors believe in God? Do most doctors within a particular specialty tend to believe in agnosticism and have no certainty God exists or not? Are most doctors atheists who don't believe in God? Do doctors pray with patients or try to influence them toward their religions? These are questions with answers that may be of interest to you.

This research study examines the influence of religion and spirituality on doctors’ decisions to pursue medicine, daily medical practice, and their interactions with patients. Emailed anonymous surveys were completed by 2,097 responding doctors whose practicing years ranged from ≤1 to ≥ 30 years. Medical fields represented included primary care, medical specialties, surgical specialties, and psychiatry.

The following results were reported:

1) The majority of doctors believe in God (65.2 %), and 51.2 % reported themselves as religious, 24.8 % spiritual, 12.4 % agnostic, and 11.6 % atheist.

2) Most doctors consider themselves religious or spiritual, but the rates of agnosticism and atheism are higher than the general population.

3) Psychiatrists were more likely to report agnosticism and were the least religious group.

4) Frequent prayer was reported by 44.7 % of doctors, but only 20.7 % reported having prayed with patients.


Although the influence of religion on doctors’ lives and medical practices did not influence the majority of them to incorporate prayer with patients, there are times when doctors and other healthcare workers may try to sway patients’ beliefs to be more in line with their own religious and spiritual beliefs. This video presents a scenario including a patient's charge of religious discrimination by a doctor.




Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.