Why do hospitals need to know your religion?
Patients often turn to their religious and spiritual beliefs when making medical decisions. Religion and spirituality can impact decisions regarding diet, medicines based on animal products, modesty, and the preferred gender of their health providers.
Religion and spirituality can impact decisions regarding diet, medicines based on animal products, modesty, and the preferred gender of their health providers. Some religions have strict prayer times that may interfere with medical treatment.
The academic study of religion is an ideal way to explore religious ideas from a variety of perspectives. Religion is one of the primary means for people wanting to explore the human condition of existence. Researching religion means having the chance to learn how others understand existence and our purpose.
It may therefore be appropriate to ask a patient about their personal beliefs. However, you must not put pressure on a patient to discuss or justify their beliefs, or the absence of them. You must provide a good standard of practice and care.
Taking a religious or spiritual history may have far-reaching effects on the patient's ability to cope with illness as well as on the physician-patient relationship, affecting compliance and possibly future effectiveness of medical interventions.
Religious beliefs cause patients to forego needed medical care, refuse life-saving procedures, and stop necessary medication, choosing faith instead of medicine. Health Practitioners need to learn to respect the decisions that patients make based on their religious beliefs and not become offended or feel rejected.
For example, researchers at the Mayo Clinic concluded, “Most studies have shown that religious involvement and spirituality are associated with better health outcomes, including greater longevity, coping skills, and health-related quality of life (even during terminal illness) and less anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Acquiring a better awareness of a patient's health beliefs may help healthcare providers identify gaps between their own and the patient's understanding of his or her health situation. Consequently, this may lead to treatment choices more acceptable to the patient's expectations and needs.
Patients seek control through a partnership with God, ask God's forgiveness and try to forgive others, draw strength and comfort from their spiritual beliefs, and find support from a spiritual or religious community. These actions lead to less psychological distress (25).
They want to identify any beliefs and practices that may affect care. Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, do not accept blood transfusions. Some religions have special diets. In addition, most hospitals have a chaplaincy service and they will offer a visit from a chaplain if you want one.
Can a doctor refuse care based on religious beliefs?
It is not, however, ethical to refuse a patient's request for treatment simply on the basis of personal beliefs, including religion. Much like our country's founding principles that enshrine the separation of church and state, medical ethics must recognize the boundaries between church and medicine.
In most cases, your employer isn't entitled to ask you about your religious beliefs. However, your employer may have some room to ask you about your religion if you make a reasonable accommodation request.
Cultural respect is critical to reducing health disparities. It helps improve access to high-quality health care that is respectful of and responsive to the needs of diverse patients.