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J Pain Symptom Manage. 2015 Oct;50(4):507-15. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.04.020. Epub 2015 May 27.

Religion, Spirituality, and the Hidden Curriculum: Medical Student and Faculty Reflections.

Author information

1
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Electronic address: Michael_Balboni@dfci.harvard.edu.
2
Department of Sociology, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, USA.
3
Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
4
Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.
5
Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
6
Theology Department, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA.
7
Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
8
Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
9
Department of Radiation Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Abstract

CONTEXT:

Religion and spirituality play an important role in physicians' medical practice, but little research has examined their influence within the socialization of medical trainees and the hidden curriculum.

OBJECTIVES:

The objective is to explore the role of religion and spirituality as they intersect with aspects of medicine's hidden curriculum.

METHODS:

Semiscripted, one-on-one interviews and focus groups (n = 33 respondents) were conducted to assess Harvard Medical School student and faculty experiences of religion/spirituality and the professionalization process during medical training. Using grounded theory, theme extraction was performed with interdisciplinary input (medicine, sociology, and theology), yielding a high inter-rater reliability score (kappa = 0.75).

RESULTS:

Three domains emerged where religion and spirituality appear as a factor in medical training. First, religion/spirituality may present unique challenges and benefits in relation to the hidden curriculum. Religious/spiritual respondents more often reported to struggle with issues of personal identity, increased self-doubt, and perceived medical knowledge inadequacy. However, religious/spiritual participants less often described relationship conflicts within the medical team, work-life imbalance, and emotional stress arising from patient suffering. Second, religion/spirituality may influence coping strategies during encounters with patient suffering. Religious/spiritual trainees described using prayer, faith, and compassion as means for coping whereas nonreligious/nonspiritual trainees discussed compartmentalization and emotional repression. Third, levels of religion/spirituality appear to fluctuate in relation to medical training, with many trainees experiencing an increase in religiousness/spirituality during training.

CONCLUSION:

Religion/spirituality has a largely unstudied but possibly influential role in medical student socialization. Future study is needed to characterize its function within the hidden curriculum.

KEYWORDS:

Professionalism; hidden curriculum; medical education; religion; spirituality

PMID:
26025271
PMCID:
PMC5267318
DOI:
10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2015.04.020
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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