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Acad Med. 2004 Jul;79(7):677-9.

Can physicians' care be neutral regarding religion?

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Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC.


A recent critique of the growing field of spirituality and medicine suggests that physicians should foster a professional ethic that is deliberately neutral regarding religion. The critique reflects an anxiety that it is almost inherently coercive for physicians to engage their patient's spiritual concerns, and it expresses a parallel admonition to physicians not to impose their values on patients. Although the authors agree that religious coercion is never warranted, they argue that neutrality regarding religion is neither possible nor desirable. They suggest rather that the challenging interface between religion and medicine requires wisdom and character formed by deep self-awareness of the various commitments (religious or otherwise) that shape decisions regarding medical practice, policy, and professional conduct.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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