Religious values of physicians affect their clinical practice: A meta-analysis of individual participant data from 7 countries

Alex Kappel Kørup*, Jens Søndergaard, Giancarlo Lucchetti, Parameshwaran Ramakrishnan, Klaus Baumann, Eunmi Lee, Eckhard Frick, Arndt Büssing, Nada A Alyousefi, Azimatul Karimah, Esther Schouten, Inga Wermuth, Niels Christian Hvidt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Observational studies indicate that religious values of physicians influence clinical practice. The aim of this study was to test prior hypotheses of prevalence of this influence using a meta-analysis design.

METHODS: Based on a systematic literature search we performed individual participant data meta-analysis (IPDMA) on data based on 2 preselected questionnaires. Ten samples from 7 countries remained after exclusion (n = 3342). IPDMA was performed using a random-effects model with 2 summary measures: the mean value of the scale "Religiosity of Health Professionals"; and a dichotomized value of the question "My religious beliefs influence my practice of medicine." Also, a sensitivity analysis was performed using a mixed-models design controlling for confounders.

RESULTS: Mean score of religiosity (95% confidence interval [CI]) was significantly lower in the European subgroup (8.46 [6.96-9.96]) compared with the Asian samples India (10.46 [9.82-10.21]) and Indonesia (12.52 [12.19-12.84]), whereas Brazil (9.76 [9.54-9.99]) and USA (10.02 [9.82-10.21]) were placed in between. The proportion of the European physicians who agreed to the statement "My religious beliefs influence my practice of medicine" (95% CI) was 42% (26%-59%) compared with Brazil (36% [29%-43%]), USA (57% [54%-60%]), India (58% [52%-63%]), and Indonesia (91% [84%-95%]).

CONCLUSIONS: Although large cross-cultural variations existed in the samples, 50% of physicians reported to be influenced by their religious beliefs. Religiosity and influence of religious beliefs were most pronounced in India, Indonesia, and a European faith-based hospital. Education regimes of current and future physicians should encompass this influence, and help physicians learn how their personal values influence their clinical practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere17265
JournalMedicine
Volume98
Issue number38
ISSN0025-7974
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

Keywords

  • medical ethics
  • meta-analysis
  • physicians
  • religion
  • value neutrality

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