Journal of Religion and Health

, 48:418

Preferences for Life-Prolonging Medical Treatments and Deference to the Will of God

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10943-008-9205-y

Cite this article as:
Winter, L., Dennis, M.P. & Parker, B. J Relig Health (2009) 48: 418. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9205-y


We defined and measured a dimension of religiosity frequently invoked in end-of-life (EOL) research—deference to God’s Will (GW)—and examined its relationship to preferences for life-prolonging treatments. In a 35-min telephone interview, 304 older men and women (60 +) were administered the 5-item GW scale, sociodemographic questions, three attitude items regarding length of life, and measures of two health indices, depression, and life-prolonging treatment preferences. The GW scale demonstrated internal consistency (Cronbach’s alpha = .94) and predictive and discriminant validity. Higher scores indicative of greater deference to GW were associated with stronger life-prolonging treatment preferences in poor-prognosis scenarios. Implications for the role of religiosity in medical decision-making are discussed.


Religiosity Spirituality Decision making End of life Preferences for medical interventions 

Copyright information

© Blanton-Peale Institute 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laraine Winter
    • 1
  • Marie P. Dennis
    • 1
  • Barbara Parker
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for Applied Research on Aging and HealthThomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA