Spiritual Versus Religious Identity: A Necessary Distinction in Understanding Clinicians' Behavior and Attitudes Toward Clinical Practice and Medical Student Teaching in This Realm

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5 Scopus citations


Social sciences view spirituality and religion separately; medicine views them together. We identified distinctions regarding clinical practice and teaching among clinician educators based on their self-identified spirituality versus religiosity. We emailed a 24-item survey on spiritual/religious (S/R) issues to clinician educators (n = 1,067) at our institution. Three summary scales were created. Responses to statements, 'I consider myself to be spiritual' and 'I consider myself to be religious' generated four comparison groups: 'spiritual only,' 'religious only,' 'both spiritual and religious' and 'neither.' Analyses employed ANOVA and T tests. A total of 633 (59 %) surveys were completed. Four percentage self-identified as 'religious only'; remaining respondents divided evenly, about 30 % into each of the other categories. Groups differed from one another on all summary scales (p<.0001). Using T tests, the 'spiritual only' group differed from the 'religious only' group regarding teaching. The 'spiritual and religious' group had the highest mean ratings for all summary scales. The 'neither' and 'religious only' group had the lowest mean ratings. Clinicians' spiritual versus religious identity is associated with differences in behavior/attitudes regarding S/R toward clinical practice and medical student teaching. These findings elucidate opportunities for faculty development to explore effects of beliefs on behavior and attitudes within this realm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1249-1256
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Religion and Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014



  • Clinician behavior and attitudes
  • Medical education
  • Religion
  • Spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Religious studies

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