Linking religion and medicine called scientifically questionable

Posted: Friday, June 23, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) -- The trend toward incorporating religion and spirituality into health care is ethically and scientifically questionable, according to an article in this week's New England Journal of Medicine by a group of Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim biomedical researchers and chaplains.

Combining the two ''leads to weak science (and) watered-down religion,'' said the article whose lead author was Richard P. Sloan, director of behavioral medicine at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center.

''We are troubled by the uncritical embrace of this trend by the general public, individual physicians and American medical schools,'' the article said.

The authors stated that ''limited, narrowly focused and methodologically flawed studies'' are leading to false conclusions that religious activity promotes healing, that patients should be encouraged to participate in such activities, and that patients want a spiritual component to their medical care.

''Attempts to link religion to health oversimplifies both,'' the authors concluded.

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