More than three-quarters of internists feel comfortable addressing spiritual needs with patients, a survey found.
Following an ACP Internist cover story on the same topic, internists responded with how comfortable they were. Half said they were very comfortable and another one-quarter said they were somewhat comfortable.
Anywhere from 50% to 90% of patients want physicians to address their spiritual needs, according to previous studies in the literature, and more than 90% of doctors have said it's appropriate to do so if the patient asks first. And more than half of all doctors have responded that they pray with patients who ask them to, the article stated.
Addressing spiritual needs can it can be done even during appointments, with a simple question, "What role does spirituality or religion play in your life?" requiring no more than a minute of conversation. It then becomes easier to bring up spirituality later when addressing end-of-life planning.
A FICA Spiritual History Tool is available online, as is ACP's Ethics Manual.
One more point of advice from the article: Physicians should address their own core values, set boundaries in dealing with patients with different belief systems and review options in those cases.