August 26th, 2010
02:17 PM ET

Study: Doctors' religious beliefs affect end-of-life care

If you think your beliefs are the only ones that affect your health care, pay attention to this: A doctor's own religious practice can become quite relevant to patient care, especially when end-of-life issues come into play.

A new study finds that doctors who are not religious are more likely to take steps to help end a very sick patient's life, and to discuss these kinds of decisions, than doctors who are very religious.

The study, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, surveyed more than 8,500 doctors in the United Kingdom across a wide range of specialties such as neurology, palliative care, and general practice.

Read the full story

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Health care

soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. mabel floyd

    i posted at 11:12 am-it is now 6:28 pm CST and my post is still "awaiting moderation"-what gives?

    August 27, 2010 at 7:29 pm |
    • Kate

      @Mabel Floyd

      You probably tripped the bad words filter, even if it was buried inside a harmless word (There's one county in the UK you can never post the name of here as an example). Some say they've had their posts that have tripped the filter get approved before, but I never have.

      Easiest way is to go through your post, figure out what words are likely to trip it, change them (some use hyphens or .'s to break them up, like const-itution) and resubmit

      August 27, 2010 at 7:48 pm |
    • One Whose Name Means Beloved of God

      OK–I'll bite. Which country is that?

      Southeast, southwest, northeast, northwest? give me a hint, cus I don't get it....

      August 28, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
  2. mabel floyd

    i have worked in the hospice area for 16 years both teaching and practicing. believe me you need to talk to your doctor about your beliefs and his beliefs. dying in a more comfortable state versus in a quite painful state is a huge difference. i fail to understand why some supposed christians think that prolonging the dying state and having the patient in agony brings the patient closer to God. rubbish-everything we do in medicine changes the path of illness and it's outcome. God did not give man a brain to use as decoration.

    August 27, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  3. Sketchbook

    Since the religious believe in Everlasting Life, why arent they eager to grab it?

    August 27, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  4. NEON whip

    who cares. whats the point.

    August 26, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
  5. Reality

    Religious or not, they all use a morphine drip to ease our way into whatever is on the other side.

    August 26, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
  6. Kate

    On the flip side, you have the situation in the UK where the Doctors can (and do) decide to slap a DNR on you without your permission or knowledge, overriding you or your family's wishes, based solely on *their* opinion of your "quality of life".

    I'm not so sure where religion comes into it in their case (if at all)

    August 26, 2010 at 3:34 pm |
    • donna

      Whoa! That's terrible, how scary!!

      August 27, 2010 at 3:41 am |
  7. Skeeg

    After reading the many posts on the DrGupta side of this article, I am feeling the need to get a DNR order tattooed on my chest.
    What a mess.

    The fragility of the human body is extreme, yet so many people have an extreme phobia about it.
    Our self-preservation instincts help to blind us to these harsh truths that invade our lives.

    Enter the religion-based delusions (stage right)
    Now we have ethical conflicts galore thanks to so many "religious" people who absolutely LOVE to see other people suffering horribly to death. Many of them are "drawn" to the medical industry so they can "make sure" things are done just the way they like them.

    "Oh, it will purify your soul." "It is ordained in my special book." "Your body is a temple and it must be purified with suffering."

    The sadistic and sociopathic underpinnings of religion ensure that your odds of being slowly tortured unto death are more likely than not.

    Now go have more children. The twisted and sadistic psychotics out there demand it in the name of their delusion.
    They don't want to run short of victims – nor does their "God".

    August 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • Anna7576

      Couldn't help but reply to your post Skeeg. You seem to have a very negative view of "religious" people and especialy religious doctors.
      I am in my 4th and final year of medical school and I am what most people would consider "religious". I want to go into medicine so that I can help people and I certainly don't like seeing anyone suffer. I certainly don't think pain purifies anything. While I am still forming some of my opinions on end of life care, I definitly don't want someone who is dying to suffer. I think the dying should have their pain controlled as much as is medically possible. And while I don't believe in hastening the end of someone's life, I do think people should be allowed to die comportably if they wish without being poked with needles, taken through painful surgeries, or being hooked to breathing machines if that's not what they or their families want.
      I'm sorry if you've had bad experiences with doctors and the "religious" in the past. I hope you're able to have better experiences in the future.

      August 27, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
    • GrungeFactor


      If I understand the point Skeeg was making, then as a medical provider your empathy must rule and not your religious views. Now, this is where you're probably going to want to respond with something like, "But my religion is what helps me to have empathy!"
      If you can't do it without religion, then you are a potential criminal, for you do not have complete control over your own mind.

      In addition, you wrote, "while I don't believe in hastening the end of someone's life, I do think people should be allowed to die comportably if they wish without being poked with needles, taken through painful surgeries, or being hooked to breathing machines if that's not what they or their families want."

      So you're going to be one of those nasty ones that like to see people suffer. "Oh, that's what their families want!"
      Don't you have relatives that you would not trust with this sort of thing if you were the one suffering?

      Too bad I won't be on the panel(s) that rule on your being allowed to practice medicine.
      You blew right past all those medical ethics classes, I guess. Or skipped them completely. They didn't touch your religion at all, did they??

      You are obviously a torturer ready to graduate to some hands-on stuff. I do not envy your victims.

      August 28, 2010 at 5:33 am |
  8. Nonimus

    "very or extremely non-religious" – Is that kind of like a person being extremely non-dead or a rock being extremely non-living? just wondering.

    August 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.