Spirituality/Medicine Interface Project

Religious Awareness Training for Medical Students: Effect on Clinical Interpersonal Behavior

Authors: John T. Chibnall, PHD, Mary Ann Cook, PHD, Douglas K. Miller, MD


We conducted a pilot study to examine the effect of religious-awareness training on medical students’ “bedside manners.” Research has documented physician avoidance of religious inquiry due to discomfort and lack of training.1–3 Other research suggests that medical students exposed to religion in medicine display more empathy and positive attitudes toward religion in the clinic.4 Our study was an interface of these lines of research using an experimental design.

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1. Armbruster CA, Chibnall JT, Legett S. Pediatrician beliefs about spirituality and religion in medicine: associations with clinical practice. Pediatrics 2003;111:e227–235.
2. Chibnall JT, Brooks CA. Religion in the clinic: the role of physician beliefs. South Med J2001;94:374–379.
3. Chibnall JT, Bennett ML, Videen SD, et al. Identifying barriers to psychosocial spiritual care at the end of life: a physician group study. Am J Hospice Palliat Med 2004;21:419–426.
4. Chibnall JT, Jeral JM, Cerullo MA, et al. Medical school exposure to spirituality and response to a hypothetical cancer patient. J Cancer Educ 2002;17:188–190.
5. Levin JS, Larson DB, Puchalski CM. Religion and spirituality in medicine: research and education.JAMA 1997;278:792–793.