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Spiritual care doesn’t require belief in God

It is with increasing dismay that I have read some of the comments in Pulse regarding the appropriateness of religious discussion with patients during a consultation.

As GPs we strive to provide holistic care for our patients. This includes spiritual care and an awareness of the individual's spiritual needs. Such care can be provided by a doctor who is a non-theist, theist or atheist alike.

While religion can be important for both patients and doctors, it is also essential we are able to provide support without fear of judgment – care without conditions.
If a doctor is genuinely unclear as to the nature of spiritual care, then I would commend to them many excellent courses dealing with the subject.

If a patient is clearly suffering from spiritual distress, then our role as GPs is to empathise and allow the patient to lead the way. Their views are always those to be followed.
Attempting to alter the patient's beliefs or even proselytise our own views (no matter how dearly held) is at best inappropriate and at worst an abuse of our privileged relationship with the patient.

From Dr Kim Miller
Invergordon, Scotland