Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 39–53 | Cite as

Concordant Spiritual Orientations as a Factor in Physician--Patient Spiritual Discussions: A Qualitative Study

  • Mark R. Ellis
  • James D. Campbell


Objectives: To understand the impact of physicians’ and patients’ religious/spiritual orientation on discussions of spiritual issues. Methods: We performed semi-structured interviews of 10 Missouri family physicians and 10 patients of these physicians, selecting subjects nonrandomly to represent a range of demographic factors, practice types, and chronic or terminal illness. We coded and evaluated transcribed interviews for themes. Results: Respondents expressed that similar belief systems facilitate patient–physician spiritual interactions and bring confidence to their relationships. Those holding dissimilar faiths noted limited ability to address spiritual questions directly. They cited significant barriers to spiritual interaction but considered that ecumenism, use of patient-centered care, and negotiation skills lessen these barriers. Conclusions: Our respondents view spirituality similarly to other aspects of the physician–patient relationship involving differing viewpoints. Where discordance exists, cross-cultural, patient-centered, diplomatic approaches facilitate spiritual discussions.


cross-cultural medicine family medicine patient-centered care religion and medicine spirituality medicine 


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Copyright information

© Blanton-Peale Institute 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark R. Ellis
    • 1
  • James D. Campbell
    • 2
  1. 1.Cox Family Practice Residency in Springfield, University of Missouri--Columbia
  2. 2.Department of Family and Community MedicineUniversity of Missouri--ColumbiaUSA

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