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J Pediatr Nurs. 2004 Oct;19(5):351-6.

Parents' refusal of medical treatment based on religious and/or cultural beliefs: the law, ethical principles, and clinical implications.

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  • 1Dominican University of California, San Rafael, CA 94901, USA.


When parents apply religious or cultural beliefs concerning spiritual healing, faith healing, or preference for prayer over traditional health care for children, concerns develop. Medical care is considered one of the most basic of all human needs, and yet parents may elect to apply religious or cultural beliefs in place of traditional Western medical care for their children. Because memberships in religious groups that have beliefs concerning prayer and health care for children are increasing, the topic is of great importance for pediatric health professionals. This article describes parental refusal of medical care, and it discusses the legal, ethical, and clinical implications.

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