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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Many Believe God Can Heal When Doctors Can't

More than 57 percent of people—and nearly 20 percent of medical trauma professionals—believe that divine intervention could save a person when physicians believe treatment is futile, according to a study in the August issue of the journal Archives of Surgery. The study, led by Dr. Lenworth Jacobs, director of emergency medicine and trauma at Hartford Hospital and a surgery professor at the University of Connecticut, also found that about 61 of the public and 20 percent of professionals believe that a person in a persistent vegetative state could be saved by a miracle. When asked to imagine that they themselves were critically injured, 41 percent of the general public and about 30 percent of professionals said religious beliefs would be very important in making decisions about their own medical care.
Jacobs says that being sensitive to these kinds of beliefs can help doctors establish a trusting relationship with patients and their loved ones—the type of relationships that's needed if doctors hope to convey complex scientific evidence and paint a realistic medical picture.
The study's results are based on two surveys, one of 1,000 random adults and the other of 774 medical workers, conducted in 2005. —Heather Wax