Religious views influence doctor’s clinical decisions


The Lead may be one of the last religious blogs to point to today’s BBC report on research which finds the religious views of doctors influences their clinical decisions on end of life treatment for their patients:

Those who described themselves as very or extremely non-religious were about 40% more likely to sedate than religious doctors, the study in the Journal of Medical Ethics reported.

Being very or extremely religious was also associated with significantly fewer discussions of decisions with patients around treatment at the end of life.

More than 12% of the doctors surveyed described themselves as very or extremely religious, compared with just over 6% of the UK general population – as documented in the last national survey of attitudes.

However one in five described themselves as very or extremely non-religious, slightly higher than the general population.

From the abstract:

Independently of speciality, doctors who described themselves as non-religious were more likely than others to report having given continuous deep sedation until death, having taken decisions they expected or partly intended to end life, and to have discussed these decisions with patients judged to have the capacity to participate in discussions. Speciality was independently related to wide variations in the reporting of decisions taken with some intent to end life, with doctors in ‘other hospital’ specialities being almost 10 times as likely to report this when compared with palliative medicine specialists, regardless of religious faith.

Church Mouse has a blogosphere roundup.

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Come on. What they mean by sedate is administer adequate pain relief. Let's not deceive ourselves, we are talking about diseases and injuries so terrible that they end up being fatal.

It's a cruel, angering, and ironic indictment of religion in the UK (maybe the US too) that those whose baptismal covenant requires that they minister with compassion to their fellow men and women are least likely to do so.

I would like to blame it on the nonsense coming out of Rome, and maybe some of the blame does belong there. However, this is the UK, one of the birthplaces of rebellion against Roman religious authority.

-Jadvar Johnson

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Early last year I noted an article in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, recounting a somewhat parallel study of the preferences of patients in end of life care. One of the questions raised in that article was whether more religious patients would accept, and perhaps seek more care at the end of life, because they had more hope, and so were willing to try more procedures. I found problems with the study in JAMA. I'll be looking for this article in full to see if I there are problems with the JME article.

Marshal Scott

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