The Role of Faith in the Patient-Physician Relationship
This month's issue explores the ethical issues raised by faith commitments in the patient-physician relationship. On a daily basis, physicians care for patients with strong religious convictions. For many patients, faith forms the core of their value system, bringing meaning both to health and suffering. Religiously devout patients interpret major life events—birth, reproduction, illness, and death—in the context of their relation to God and their faith community. While some physicians view matters of faith as tangential to their scientific practice of medicine, patients often need to converse with their physician about significant health care decisions in the language of belief in the sacred.