The Art of Caring
The Doctor-Patient-God Relationship—‘Doctor, Do You Believe in God?’ Is No Simple Question
Jeffrey T. Berger, MD; Kathleen A. DiGangi Condon, DNP MA; Dana Ribeiro Miller, MDiv LMSW
A recent string of comments on the AAHPM Connect platform discussed fielding patients’ religious-focused questions such as, “Doctor, do you believe in God? Miracles? Heaven?” and how to best manage requests, such as “Doctor, please pray with me” or “Please pray for me.” A great range of perspectives, ranging from highly supportive to extremely reticent, were reflected in the comments. Similarly, a study in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management found that among a sample of US physicians, 55% would pray with their patients if asked, and physicians were most willing to do so if there was religious concordance with the patient. This last point speaks to the ethically fraught nature of comingling religiosity and professionalism.