1. There is a significant association between religiosity and/or spirituality and spirituality in clinical practice, independent of culture.
2. Psychiatrists reported a higher degree of spirituality in clinical practice compared to non-psychiatrists.
Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)
Physicians who describe themselves to be religious or spiritual have been shown to have a higher likelihood to discuss patients’ religiosity and/or spirituality (R/S) issues and cooperate with clergy/pastoral professionals. However, prior studies have not controlled for known confounders. As a result, the present meta-analysis seeks to investigate the association between physician’s religious characteristics and their self-reported behavior regarding these in clinical practice. A secondary analysis was performed to compare the behaviors of psychiatrists and non-psychiatrists.
From 7323 identified health professionals in the Network for Research in Spirituality and Health (NERSH) database and literature search, 3159 physicians were identified from 2002 to 2018. Inclusion criteria required physicians to have measures for R/S and spirituality in clinical practice (R/S-B) described in previous research. Non-physicians were excluded from the analysis. Statistical analysis was performed using a two-stage individual participant data meta-analysis (IPDMA) using R/S coefficients. Meta analyses were performed using a random-effects inverse-variance model with DerSimonian-Laird estimate of tau.
The results demonstrated a significant association between R/S and R/S-B independent of culture. Furthermore, psychiatrists reported a higher degree of R/S-B compared to non-psychiatrists despite an equal effect of R/S on R/S-B for both groups. However, this study was limited by heterogeneity with respect to the definition of religiosity and spirituality, and missing relevant potential confounders such as duration of work experience and level of academic degree. Nonetheless, these results demonstrate a cultural independent effect of R/S on R/S-B which has not been previously documented.
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