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Discussion 1: Patients’ Perception About Religion and Spirituality
Religion and spirituality are complex constructs that have the capacity to influence patients’ illnesses, courses of treatment, and experiences. Medical social workers may feel unsure of how to address patients’ religious beliefs. Despite knowledge about the benefits of medications and treatment in illness management, social workers may hear patient comments such as, “I don’t need medicine. God is going to heal me.” In situations of conflicting ideas, it is important for medical social workers to consider the standards and tenets that govern the profession. Medical social workers must listen, not judge, and promote a patient’s self-determination. In addition, they must accept that they may not be able to address a patient’s religious or spiritual needs and call upon colleagues such as pastors, priests, imams, and rabbis who are more qualified in these areas