By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Religion is rarely discussed in hospitals, despite its power to heal
New research shows that doctors rarely talk to their patients about religion towards the end of their life. Here's a look at why that might not be the best course. - photo by Herb Scribner
Religion is an important and influential aspect of our lives, even as we near death.

But a new study from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that religion is rarely discussed between patients and doctors in intensive-care units, according to Fox News.

In fact, in most cases, the patient brings religion up in conversation, not the doctor. This is especially true in end-of-life situations, when a patient surrogate is making decisions for someone who is in intensive care and on the brink of death, Fox News reported.

Surrogates most often mentioned their religious beliefs, practices or community, or that the doctor is a healing instrument of god, or that the end of life will be a new beginning for the patient, Fox News reported.

To find this, researchers analyzed 249 meetings from 2009 to 2012 between physicians and an ICU patients surrogate decision maker. Religion was only discussed in 40 of the conversations. In most cases, doctors focused the conversations on medical issues and rarely asked about the patients religious beliefs or their own, Fox News reported.

Lead researcher, Dr. Douglas B. White, said that its important for doctors to consider their patients religious beliefs in intensive-care situations because it may influence their decision making, especially in end-of-life situations, according to Fox News.

"Regardless of whether the patient has decision-making capacity, clinicians should try to determine whether patients' religious and spiritual beliefs may affect the kind of medical care that is respectful of what is important to the patient as a person," White said. Separately, many family members of critically ill patients find solace in their religious or spiritual beliefs, and it may be helpful for clinicians to understand this to better support them."

Religion has been known to have a beneficial impact in the hospital for patients. For example, a 2004 study found that religious patients healed quicker and were less likely to visit a nursing home after their hospital stay, according to WebMD. The study found that patients who read the Bible, prayed or attended religious activities spent fewer days in the hospital and were admitted to the hospital less often, too.

Researchers said the 2014 study should inspire hospitals and their workers to promote religion during ones hospitalization, and offer ways for patients to find religious and spiritual activities once theyre out of the hospital to help them heal.

Several studies in the last decade have pointed towards the healing power of prayer, according to Newsmax Health. Duke Universitys Harold G. Koenig told Newsmax Health that research continues to show prayer can not only keep people from getting sick, but also help them heal faster.

Researchers also told Newsmax that prayer can benefit people psychologically, mentally and socially, Newsmax reported.

The benefits of devout religious practice, particularly involvement in a faith community and religious commitment, are that people cope better. In general, they cope with stress better, they experience greater well-being because they have more hope, they're more optimistic, they experience less depression, less anxiety and they commit suicide less often, he told Newsmax. They have stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure and probably better cardiovascular functioning.

But this isnt always the case. Mark Kellner reported in March of this year that sometimes prayer and religious healing practices dont always save one from medical issues or death because God may have bigger plans in mind.

"The body and everything in the universe belongs to God," Islamic scholar Salih Yucel told Kellner. "God wants to display his (ways) on human beings. If people do not get sick, they won't know who is the healer. If they don't get hungry, they won't know who is the provider."