Hospice patients' attitudes regarding spiritual discussions with their doctors

Alton Hart, R. Jeff Kohlwes, Rick Deyo, Lorna A. Rhodes, Deborah J. Bowen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to assess hospice patients' attitudes regarding the discussion of spiritual issues with their physicians. We conducted in-depth interviews using open-ended questions on living with illness, spirituality and religion, and physician-patient relationships. The interviews were audiotaped, transcribed, and analyzed for dominant themes. The following dominant themes were identified: (1) treating the whole person, (2) treating with sensitivity, (3) favorable attitudes toward religious or spiritual discussions with doctors, and (4) no "preaching." Our findings suggest that patients do not expect physicians to be their primary spiritual advisors; however, physicians should be aware of and comfortable communicating with patients about religious or spiritual issues. More training in this topic may enhance the care physicians provide to patients near the end of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-139
Number of pages5
JournalAmerican Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Hospice patients
  • Physician-patient relationships
  • Religion
  • Spiritual

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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