How Should Clinicians Respond to Requests from Patients to Participate in Prayer?
AMA Journal of Ethics, July 2018
Over the past 20 years, physicians have shifted from viewing a patient's request for prayer as a violation of professional boundaries to a question deserving nuanced understanding of the patient's needs and the clinician's boundaries. In this case, Mrs. C's request for prayer can reflect religious distress, anxiety about her clinical circumstances, or a desire to better connect with her physician. These different needs suggest that it is important to understand the request before responding. To do this well requires that Dr. Q not be emotionally overwhelmed by the request and that she has skill in discerning potential reasons for the request.
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