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Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, philosophy and health care

Thursday, September 13, 2018

How Should Clinicians Respond to Requests from Patients to Participate in Prayer?

A. R. Christensen, T. E. Cook, and R. M. Arnold
AMA J Ethics. 2018;20(7):E621-629.

Abstract

Over the past 20 years, physicians have shifted from viewing a patient’s request for prayer as a violation of professional boundaries to a question deserving nuanced understanding of the patient’s needs and the clinician’s boundaries. In this case, Mrs. C’s request for prayer can reflect religious distress, anxiety about her clinical circumstances, or a desire to better connect with her physician. These different needs suggest that it is important to understand the request before responding. To do this well requires that Dr. Q not be emotionally overwhelmed by the request and that she has skill in discerning potential reasons for the request.

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