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Religious Beliefs in Healthcare

Religious diversity across the globe challenges health care systems and providers to deliver culturally competent medical care. To be culturally competent, providers and organizations must deliver health care services that meet the cultural preferences of their patients [1]. Providing cultural competency training and developing policies and procedures that decrease barriers to culturally competent care are some ways to encourage health professionals and systems to achieve these goals [1].

When it comes to difficult medical decisions for patients and their families, religious beliefs may not be taken into consideration by health providers when they are dealing with patients [1]. Providers should be sensitive to a patient's spiritual and religious needs. Many anxiety-ridden patients find that their faith is a source of relief. Healthcare professionals should recognize and cater to the religious and spiritual needs of patients because many patients look to their beliefs when difficult healthcare decisions need to be made [1]. However, some do believe that health and religion should be separated.

Since the development of modern thought, a secular public sphere has risen in conjunction with a desire for religious tolerance [2]. In fields like government, philosophy, and education, which were once closely entwined with religion, there has been a move toward nonsectarian strategies to open them up to people regardless of religious affiliation. In a way, religion and medicine are interconnected because they are both major ways that people deal with human suffering [2].

Patients' values are often influenced by their religion or spirituality in a way that is at odds with what their physicians consider to be best for them [2]. To create a treatment plan that maximizes a patient's benefits, physician expertise must be combined with patient values. These conflicts often arise when reproductive health care is provided, such as contraceptive methods, abortion procedures, or fertility treatments [2].

"Cultural competence" means having behaviors, attitudes, and policies that are concurring within an organization or system that support the organization or professionals in working effectively across cultural boundaries [3]. A review of how religious and cultural values influence patient satisfaction and outcomes would help to fill gaps in the cultural competency literature, as well as interventions to improve the incorporation of religious and cultural values into the clinical encounter and care plan [3]. Culture, religion, and spirituality have a significant impact on healthcare providers' behaviors, attitudes, and interactions with their patients, as well as, the environment of their office [3].


1. Swihart, D. L., Yarrarapu, S. N. S., & Martin, R. L. (2021, December 2). Cultural Religious Competence in Clinical Practice. National Library of Medicine.

2. Shinall, M. C. (2009, October 1). The separation of Church and Medicine. Journal of Ethics | American Medical Association.

3. Dillard, V., Moss, J., Padgett, N., Tan, X., & Kennedy, A. B. (2021, June 15). Attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of religiosity, spirituality, and cultural competence in the Medical Profession: A cross-sectional survey study. PLOS ONE.



Author: Rayven Hall

Editors: Lauryn Agron and Terin Buckley

Health scientist: Rayven Hall

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