244723 To Pray or not to Pray – Religio-Cultural Competency and the Provider-Patient Relationship

Monday, October 31, 2011: 12:30 PM

Mark Fowler , Director of Programs - Religious Diversity in Health Care, Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding, New York, NY
“Would you pray with me/us?” This is just one example of how the religious beliefs of a patient – and of the provider – intersect and potentially impact this delicate relationship. Providers have shared with us a variety of responses to this situation, and there seems to be no consensus as to how to respond in a manner that is respectful of the beliefs of both patient and provider. Moreover, hospitals rarely seem to have policies and guidelines for health care practitioners as to how to appropriately interact with patients around the topic of religion. Tanenbaum seeks to open a dialogue on this topic, demonstrating the need for discussion, and offering methods for providers and institutions for effectively and respectively managing this sensitive but often vital component to providing quality patient-centered care.

Tanenbaum is a secular, non-sectarian not-for-profit dedicated to providing the practical programs that organizations need to operate in a religiously inclusive manner. Prayer is but one of the many religious issues that Tanenbaum's Religious Diversity in Health Care program explores in order to help providers understand how cultural practices and religious beliefs impact treatment and the decisions patients make based on their religious beliefs (or non beliefs).

This poster will present our findings on the issue of prayer with patients from the many trainings we have conducted with health care practitioners, as well as our environmental assessment work with major health care institutions. We will introduce for examination and discussion the issue of proselytizing, asking health care professionals to contemplate if and when it is appropriate for providers to bring their own religious beliefs into the practitioner-patient relationship. The spectrum of behavior associated with proselytizing can have a profound impact on the provider-patient relationship. Tanenbaum will offer our better practices on addressing the topics of prayer and proselytizing from our new book The Medical Manual for Religio-Cultural Competence.

According to a study reported in the Annals of Family Medicine in 2004, 83% of patients wanted doctors to ask about their religious needs in at least some circumstances. However, only 9% could recall being asked. Tanenbaum trains providers in core practices and critical communication skills so that they are prepared to respectfully inquire about patients' religious beliefs, respond appropriately and anticipate potential areas of conflict, thereby gaining patients' trust and achieving more positive health outcomes.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Ethics, professional and legal requirements

Learning Objectives:
1)Demonstrate the need for the training of health care practitioners around the topic of prayer and proselytizing in the patient-provider relationship. 2)Facilitate a dialogue on appropriate and respectful approaches for patient-provider interaction around prayer that enhances the quality of patient-centered care. 3)Define core practices and communication strategies that allow providers to respectfully inquire about patients’ religious beliefs and appropriately interact with patients on the topic of religion.

Keywords: Religion, Cultural Competency

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Mark E. Fowler is responsible for overseeing the design and implementation of Tanenbaum's programmatic trainings. Mark has been involved in New York City's education community for over 20 years and is a skilled facilitator/trainer who worked with teachers, counselors, administrators and students at the Anti-Defamation League on prejudice reduction, conflict resolution, and reducing bias and bullying. He is a sought-after keynote speaker and facilitator who has addressed organizations throughout New York on issues of equality in race, gender, sexual orientation and religion. He earned a B.A. in English and Education at Duke University and was trained as a Mediation and Conflict Resolution Specialist with the NYC Department of Education.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.