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Religion and Spirituality in Internal Medicine 

Religion and Spirituality in Internal Medicine
Chapter:
Religion and Spirituality in Internal Medicine
Author(s):

Lydia S. Dugdale

and Daniel P. Sulmasy

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190272432.003.0006
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date: 30 May 2020

The internal medicine physician has a unique place in a patient’s life. Relationships might endure for years, sharing many of life’s struggles and joys. Doctors may know their patients on many levels, including whether they belong to faith traditions, religious communities, or participate in spiritual practices. Many internists feel religion and spirituality have a place in the health care setting, and there are various tools available for introducing conversations about such matters into the clinical setting. This chapter reviews the literature relevant to religion and spirituality within the context of the practice of internal medicine and proposes best practices for patient care. It suggests that physicians should respectfully inquire about their patients’ spiritual and religious beliefs, make time to address spiritual concerns as they would physical concerns, and make use of the team approach to medical care, drawing on the assistance of chaplains and lay clergy as needed.

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