Doctors' Religion and Morals Impact What They Tell Patients

Many people take their doctor’s word as the ultimate truth when it comes to their health, but, as this New England Journal of Medicine study points out so well, doctors are people too -- people with their own sets of beliefs, religion, and code of ethics.

The study found that doctors are not always an unbiased party, but rather allow religion and conscience to impact what they tell patients about controversial medical treatments like terminal sedation, abortion or birth control for teens. According to the study, when patients requested a medical procedure to which the doctor objects:

  • 86 percent of doctors felt obliged to present all options to the patient
  • Only 71 percent said they felt obligated to refer the patient to a doctor who would perform the procedure
  • 63 percent felt it was ethically permissible to explain their objections to the patient

Of course, doctors aren’t only influenced by their own morals; they’re influenced by drug companies, which spend billions of dollars each year to influence doctors’ prescribing habits.

All the more reason to take your health into your own hands, and, if you do see a doctor, be sure to ask plenty of questions before making any decisions.

The New England Journal of Medicine February 8, 2007, Volume 356:593-600 (Free Full-Text Article)

Science Daily February 7, 2007