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Respect for Spiritual Beliefs Aids Doctor-Patient Trust

More trust means better joint therapeutic decision-making

TUESDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Religious and spiritual beliefs are frequently important to ophthalmology patients, as they are for other medical patient populations, and respecting the patient's religion and value system helps build the doctor-patient relationship, according to a report published in the September issue of the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Gina Magyar-Russell, Ph.D., of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a study of 124 ophthalmology patients who completed a questionnaire about their religious beliefs. The questionnaires were submitted anonymously to reassure participants that their answers would have no impact on their care.

In all 76.6 percent of respondents described themselves as Christian, 82.3 percent said prayer was an important contributor to their sense of well-being, and 45.2 percent said they attended religious services on a weekly basis. Positive appraisals of God's role in illness were more prevalent than negative appraisals, the report indicates.

"Obtaining a brief religion and spirituality history, when it becomes a routine part of developing a relationship between the patient and the physician, may become more comfortable for the physician with time, add to an understanding of the patient's value system, provide the patient with a greater sense of trust in the physician, and assist in the healing process, especially when a cure is not possible," the authors write.

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