"Research has shown that patients want their physicians to be aware of their religious beliefs, values, and needs and to discuss religious issues with them, especially if they are preparing for death. At the same time, studies have documented physician avoidance of religious discussions due to discomfort and lack of training," said senior author Douglas Miller, M.D., professor of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine. "Other research suggests that medical students exposed to religion during medical training display more empathy and positive attitudes toward religion in the clinic.
"Our study found that religious awareness training improves medical student interpersonal behavior, but the effect is moderated by gender," said Dr. Miller, who also is a research scientist at the Regenstrief Institute, Inc. and the Indiana University Center for Aging Research.
Dr. Miller and co-authors John T. Chibnall, Ph.D., and Mary Ann Cook, Ph.D., report that female medical students who received religious awareness training in addition to communications training demonstrated superior interpersonal skills relative to those who received communications training only. No similar effect was found in male medical students.
The findings were published in a research letter rather than as a research study due to the preliminary nature of the data and the small sample size.
Twelve medical students received patient supportiveness training and 15 medical students received supportiveness training plus religious awareness training. The study hypotheses and difference in training were not explained to the students, and they were unaware that
Contact: Cindy Fox Aisen