Stillbirth remains among the most challenging areas in obstetric practice. The objectives of this study were to explore the impact of stillbirth on the faith of obstetricians. Semi-structured in-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with obstetricians focusing on the impact of stillbirth on their faith. Data were analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. Stillbirth was identified as one of the most difficult experiences, and most consultants were unable to engage with their personal beliefs when dealing with death at work. The major study themes were conflict of personal faith and incongruence between personal faith and professional practice. This study highlights a gap in how obstetricians see their own faith and feeling able to respond to the faith needs of bereaved parents. Participating obstetricians did not demonstrate that spirituality was an integrated part of their professional life.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Al-Yousefi, N. (2012). Observations of Muslim physicians regarding the influence of religion on health and their clinical approach. Journal of Religion and Health, 51(2), 269–280. doi:10.1007/s10943-012-9567-z.
Balboni, M., Puchalski, C., & Peteet, J. (2014). The Relationship between medicine, spirituality and religion: Three models for integration. Journal of Religion and Health, 53(5), 1586–1598. doi:10.1007/s10943-014-9901-8.
Biggerstaff, D., & Thompson, A. R. (2008). Interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA): A qualitative methodology of choice in healthcare research. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 5(3), 214–224. doi:10.1080/14780880802314304.
Carey, L. B., & Cohen, J. (2009). Chaplain–physician consultancy: When chaplains and doctors meet in the clinical context. Journal of Religion and Health, 48(3), 353–367. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9206-x.
Carey, L. B., Newell, C. J., & Rumbold, B. (2006). Pain control and chaplaincy in Australia. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 32(6), 589–601. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2006.06.008.
CSO. (2012). Religion, ethnicity and irish travellers. Dublin: Stationery Office. Retrieved from http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/census/documents/census2011profile7/Profile,7,Education,Ethnicity,and,Irish,Traveller,Commentary.pdf
Curlin, F. A., Lawrence, R. E., Chin, M. H., & Lantos, J. D. (2007). Religion, conscience, and controversial clinical practices. New England Journal of Medicine, 356(6), 593–600. doi:10.1056/NEJMsa065316.
Dobkin, P. L., & Hutchinson, T. A. (2013). Teaching mindfulness in medical school: Where are we now and where are we going? Medical Education, 47(8), 768–779. doi:10.1111/medu.12200.
Epstein, R. M., Siegel, D. J., & Silberman, J. (2008). Self-monitoring in clinical practice: A challenge for medical educators. Journal of Continuing Education in the Health Professions, 28(1), 5–13. doi:10.1002/chp.149.
Flannelly, K. J., Koenig, H. G., Galek, K., & Ellison, C. G. (2007). Beliefs, mental health, and evolutionary threat assessment systems in the brain. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 195(12), 996–1003. doi:10.1097/NMD.0b013e31815c19b1.
Freedman, L. R., & Stulberg, D. B. (2013). Conflicts in care for obstetric complications in Catholic hospitals. AJOB Primary Research, 4(4), 1–10. doi:10.1080/21507716.2012.751464.
Gold, K. J., Kuznia, A. L., & Hayward, R. A. (2008). How physicians cope with stillbirth or neonatal death: A national survey of obstetricians. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 112(1), 29–34. doi:10.1097/AOG.1090b1013e31817d30582.
Granek, L., Mazzotta, P., Tozer, R., & Krzyzanowska, M. K. (2013). Oncologists’ protocol and coping strategies in dealing with patient loss. Death Studies, 37(10), 937–952. doi:10.1080/07481187.2012.692461.
Hafizi, S., Koenig, H., Arbabi, M., Pakrah, M., & Saghazadeh, A. (2014). Attitudes of Muslim physicians and nurses toward religious issues. Journal of Religion and Health, 53(5), 1374–1381. doi:10.1007/s10943-013-9730-1.
Kelley, M. C., & Trinidad, S. B. (2012). Silent loss and the clinical encounter: Parents’ and physicians’ experiences of stillbirth—A qualitative analysis. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 12(1), 137–151. doi:10.1186/1471-2393-12-137.
Koenig, H. G. (2004a). Religion, spirituality, and medicine: Research findings and implications for clinical practice. Southern Medical Journal, 97(12), 1194–1200.
Koenig, H. G. (2004b). Taking a spiritual history. JAMA, 291(23), 2881–2882. doi:10.1001/jama.291.23.2881.
Koenig, H. G. (2009). Research on religion, spirituality, and mental health: A review. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54(5), 283–291.
Koenig, H. G. (2012). Handbook of religion and health (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.
Krasner, M. S., Epstein, R. M., Beckman, H., et al. (2009). Association of an educational program in mindful communication with burnout, empathy, and attitudes among primary care physicians. JAMA, 302(12), 1284–1293. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.1384.
Lucchetti, G., Lucchetti, A. L. G., & Puchalski, C. M. (2012). Spirituality in medical education: Global reality? Journal of Religion and Health, 51(1), 3–19. doi:10.2307/41349863.
Maslach, C. (2003). Burnout: the cost of caring. Cambridge, MA: Malor Books.
Maslach, C., & Leiter, M. P. (2008). Early predictors of job burnout and engagement. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(3), 498–512. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.93.3.498.
McEvoy, M., Burton, W., & Milan, F. (2014). Spiritual versus religious identity: A necessary distinction in understanding clinicians’ behavior and attitudes toward clinical practice and medical student teaching in this realm. Journal of Religion and Health, 53(4), 1249–1256. doi:10.1007/s10943-014-9844-0.
Nuzum, D., Meaney, S., & O’Donoghue, K. (2014a). The impact of stillbirth on consultant obstetrician gynaecologists: A qualitative study. BJOG, 121(8), 1020–1028. doi:10.1111/1471-0528.12695.
Nuzum, D., Meaney, S., & O’Donoghue, K. (2014b). The provision of spiritual and pastoral care following stillbirth in Ireland: A mixed methods study. BMJ Supportive Palliative Care,. doi:10.1136/bmjspcare-2013-000533.
Pargament, K. I., Koenig, H. G., & Perez, L. M. (2000). The many methods of religious coping: Development and initial validation of the RCOPE. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 56(4), 519–543.
Pargament, K. I., Koenig, H. G., Tarakeshwar, N., & Hahn, J. (2004). Religious coping methods as predictors of psychological, physical and spiritual outcomes among medically ill elderly patients: A two-year longitudinal study. Journal of Health Psychology, 9(6), 713–730. doi:10.1177/1359105304045366.
Peteet, J. (2014). What is the place of clinicians’ religious or spiritual commitments in psychotherapy? A virtues-based perspective. Journal of Religion and Health, 53(4), 1190–1198. doi:10.1007/s10943-013-9816-9.
Puchalski, C. M. (2010). Formal and informal spiritual assessment. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 11, 51–58.
Puchalski, C., & Ferrell, B. (2010). Making healthcare whole. Integrating spirituality into patient care. West Conshohocken: Templeton Press.
Seale, C. (2010). The role of doctors’ religious faith and ethnicity in taking ethically controversial decisions during end-of-life care. Journal of Medical Ethics, 36(11), 677–682. doi:10.1136/jme.2010.036194.
Smith, J. A. (2008). Qualitative psychology: A practical guide to research methods (2nd ed.). Los, Angeles, CA: Sage.
Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative phenomenological analysis: Theory, method, research. London: Sage.
About this article
Cite this article
Nuzum, D., Meaney, S. & O’Donoghue, K. The Place of Faith for Consultant Obstetricians Following Stillbirth: A Qualitative Exploratory Study. J Relig Health 55, 1519–1528 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-015-0077-7