Harvard Medical School

Religion and Medicine: Should they Mix?

January 18, 2019 at 6:30pm / TMEC Amphitheater (260 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115)

When are discussions of religion and spirituality appropriate in medicine?

Harvard Medical School

There are many reasons for strong concern about physicians/healthcare providers bringing their religious beliefs into clinical practice and especially if they discuss religion with their patients. The power dynamic between physicians and patients can lead to many unintended consequences. One's religious beliefs might bias them to make decisions that are not clinically advisable. What if the physician is of a different faith background than the patient? In addition, some might say most physicians aren't trained to talk about these issues, so they should leave them to hospital chaplains. Lastly, there is the issue of time: Clinicians have too much to do, so why add one more thing to their plate?

On the other hand, many would acknowledge that religion/spirituality form an integral part of the lives of many patients with profound implications on their health. A growing number of empirical studies suggest a relationship between religion and its impact on health and patient care. Clinicians take social/sexual histories while often holding different social backgrounds/practices than their patients, and this standard clinical practice has enormous value despite many of the same concerns present as those above. Why not include a spiritual history?

This year's Veritas Forum at Harvard Medical School will be a dialogue between 4 speakers with differing views on the issue. Come with an open mind and any questions you might have!

Join us for Dinner & Discussion Immediately following the event: 8:50-10PM RSVP Here: https://goo.gl/forms/7fm9lmE7Kv3nb9Pq1

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Tia Powell

Director of Montefiore Einstein Center for Bioethics

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Richard Sloan

Professor of Behavioral Medicine/Psychiatry

Columbia University

Lydia Dugdale

Associate Professor of Medicine, Director of the Center for Clinical Medical Ethics

Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons

Tyler VanderWeele

Professor of Epidemiology

Harvard School of Public Health

Howard Koh

Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership

Harvard University
Harvard Medical School