Score One for Atheist Doctors!

Roisin Dubh
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Score One for Atheist Doctors!

Non-religious doctors just as likely to care for poor: study

July 31, 2007 BY SUSAN HOGAN/ALBACH Religion Reporter shogan@suntimes.com

Atheist and agnostic doctors are as likely to provide care for the poor as religious physicians, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Chicago and Yale New Haven Hospital.

Doctors who said they were "spiritual, but not religious," also ranked high in caring for the poor.

"We can say a lot of doctors are doing a lot of good, whether religious or not," said Dr. Farr Curlin, one of the authors of the study, published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

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The study is based on a survey of 2,000 doctors with a 63 percent response rate. Thirty-five percent of non-religious doctors, compared with 31 percent of religious doctors, said they were likely to care for people with little or no health insurance.

Most studies show religious people more likely than others to help the poor, according to Dr. Harold Koenig, director for the Center for the Study of Religion, Spirituality and Health at Duke University.

"But nobody has looked at this question in physicians," he said. "It's the largest and most systematic study of U.S. physicians. The fact that there weren't large differences is interesting."

He cautioned that the survey tool had limitations based on how religion was measured.

Doctors were asked to describe their "intrinsic religiosity," level of spirituality and frequency of attendance at religious services. Of the participating doctors, 110 said they had no religious affiliation.

"People who are not religious generally believe that you have to help other people because this is the only life you have," said Hemant Mehta of Orland Park, author of I Sold My Soul on eBay: Seeing Faith Through an Atheist's Eyes.

Curlin, who attends a nondenominational church, said the findings disappointed him.

"Caring for the poor is an expression of faithfulness and commitment," he said. "But many religious physicians don't make the connection."

 

"People who are not religious generally believe that you have to help other people because this is the only life you have.

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Susan
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Very interesting. 

Very interesting.  However, I wish the questions had been a bit more refined.

There's a big difference (in my mind) between atheist/agnostic and "no religious affiliation".

There's also a difference between "likely to care for people with little or no health insurance" in a medical practice and the unasked question about doctors that volunteer in other ways such as a free health clinic.

I'd be curious about the demographics and also how the doctors were chosen to receive an email. 

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JCE
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Susan, your post made me

Susan, your post made me laugh!  Nothing like presenting poll results to a group of skeptics!  I was wondering some of these same things but it was an interesting study and I will take "no religious affiliation" over the alternative any day.

 


djneibarger
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pretty interesting article.

pretty interesting article. i've always wondered how any doctor could be religious, knowing the time and dedication it takes to get a medical degree and the incredible amount of focus and personal liability required by a surgeon. it would seem that giving "god" credit for the work they do would feel like a slap in the face. but i don't doubt that some doctors feel "god" is working through them, as ridiculous as it is.

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Brian37
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djneibarger wrote: pretty

djneibarger wrote:
pretty interesting article. i've always wondered how any doctor could be religious, knowing the time and dedication it takes to get a medical degree and the incredible amount of focus and personal liability required by a surgeon. it would seem that giving "god" credit for the work they do would feel like a slap in the face. but i don't doubt that some doctors feel "god" is working through them, as ridiculous as it is.

I think somebody's been drinking too much "Old Fotran". Look dude we all know that god guided their eyes and hands through all their studies and they were mere puppits and god gets all the credit. M-Kay. Now stop it with this pesky rational bs and accept that your "Shiney metal ass" is god's work.  If it wern't for god you wouldnt have any "Old Fotran" keeping you alive.

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