There is a story in today’s Guardian that reads …
Atheist doctors ‘more likely to hasten death’
The implication here is that if your Doctor is not a believer, then you are more lightly going to end up dead, but is this really true? Well, lets take a look …
If you read the article, what it is actually saying is nicely summed up at the end …
“doctors who described themselves as “extremely” or “very non-religious” were almost twice as likely to report having taken these kinds of decisions as those with a religious belief.
The most religious doctors were significantly less likely than other doctors to have discussed options at the end of life with their patient.”
To state that more plainly, the title of the article is very sensational and does not in any way reflect what the text of the article is actually telling you. In other words, the correct title for this article that binds to the actual text under it should be something along the lines of …
“Religious doctors twice as likely to prolong pain and suffering for terminally ill patients, and not talk about it or give you any choices”
Should we now stop our Critcal thinking at this point? Not at all, lets hop on over to the actual study and check that out. It has all been publiched within the BMJ Journal of medical ethics.
So, who did this study?
Dr Clive Seale, Centre for Health Sciences, Barts and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London, 2, Newark Street, London E1 2AT, UK; [email protected]
Why was the study run?
Background and Aims The prevalence of religious faith among doctors and its relationship with decision-making in end-of-life care is not well documented. The impact of ethnic differences on this is also poorly understood. This study compares ethnicity and religious faith in the medical and general UK populations, and reports on their associations with ethically controversial decisions taken when providing care to dying patients.
What exactly did they do?
Method A postal survey of 3733 UK medical practitioners, of whom 2923 reported on the care of their last patient who died.
What did they find?
Findings Specialists in care of the elderly were somewhat more likely to be Hindu or Muslim than other doctors; palliative care specialists were somewhat more likely to be Christian, religious and ‘white’ than others. Ethnicity was largely unrelated to rates of reporting ethically controversial decisions. Independently of speciality, doctors who described themselves as non-religious were more likely than others to report having given continuous deep sedation until death, having taken decisions they expected or partly intended to end life, and to have discussed these decisions with patients judged to have the capacity to participate in discussions. Speciality was independently related to wide variations in the reporting of decisions taken with some intent to end life, with doctors in ‘other hospital’ specialities being almost 10 times as likely to report this when compared with palliative medicine specialists, regardless of religious faith.
What conclusion did they reach?
Conclusions Greater acknowledgement of the relationship of doctors’ values with clinical decision-making is advocated.
Click here to find it.
That’s it … anything else you find beyond these basic facts is bullshit … period. Read the actual findings carefully … its telling you that ethnic origin made no difference, but that religious belief did. Those receiving care from religious believers clearly did not receive the ideal degree of end-of-life care.
The sad fact here is that you will find believers using all this as evidence that belief holds the high moral ground and that non-believing medics will kill you. As you can see, it says no such thing at all. The facts quite clearly point out that it might be a good idea to check up on your doctors faith, and switch to a far more rational non-believing medic to ensure you get better treatment from a doctor who will actually discuss it all with you. Dr Seale, who ran the study, comments within the Guardian article…
“I had a GP who was powerfully committed to not legalising euthanasia,” said Seale. He has now changed his GP.
The findings of this ethics study clearly demonstrate that it is the non-believers who hold the higher moral ground here, not the believers.