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Perception of the Role of Spirituality and Religion in Elective Cardiac Sugery Patients

1 August 2006


Context: Religious beliefs and practices are common in the United States. Many patients seeking health care are interested in including these important personal practices into their overall health care in an attempt to maintain well being. Religious beliefs and spirituality are areas health care providers tend to be timid about addressing and they are unsure as to whether it is their role to do so, even while many patients' religious beliefs are the sole factor they use to cope with their medical illness. The day before a major cardiac procedure, an uncontrollable event, is a life-altering moment. The fact that the surgical and medical team would determine the immediate outcomes provides an intriguing window into the positive attitudes such as hope, optimism and perceived control and faith of the cardiac patients. There is a strong link between religiosity and a patient's ability to feel in control of their health situation and they can gain hope, confidence, optimism and a sense of control through religious faith and prayer.I. Objective: To investigate by survey a population of individuals undergoing elective thoracic or cardiovascular surgery in regards to their desire for an integration of spirituality and religious acts into their health care regimen during their hospital stay. Design: Subjects were given a survey with their regular intake paperwork when being seen for their pre-surgical consult. Patients were informed of the survey's purpose and asked to voluntarily participate. Setting: Subjects were selected from the Oregon Clinic and were patients of the surgeons of the Thoracic and Cardiovascular surgical team. Subjects: All individuals seeking thoracic or cardiovascular surgery from the above mentioned site and who were interested in completing the survey during the investigative period were surveyed. Results: None of the subjects surveyed were opposed to inquiry into their religious or spiritual desires, nor were any of the subjects opposed to being offered a time of silence, prayer, or meditation. However, subjects that did associate themselves with an organized religion were opposed to a visit by a religious figure from a religion different from their own whereas those subjects that did not associate themselves with any particular religion were open to the idea of a visit from a religious professional of any faith. Conclusion: A cardiac surgeon would not be overstepping their boundaries by inquiring into a patient's desires in regards to religion or spirituality during the course of their hospital stay. They would not be in the wrong for asking the patient if they'd like a visit from someone of the same religion or that of a different religion. It would not be frowned upon to offer a time of prayer, silence, or meditation prior to performing cardiac surgery.


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