1aDepartment of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria bEmory University, Atlanta, Georgia.
To explore how medical students-the doctors of tomorrow-reflect upon meeting the spiritual needs of their patients, and whether they have reflected on their own religious or spiritual beliefs, or not. The study also investigates to what extent the students feel comfortable with addressing spiritual issues in their patient care, and whether they feel this is beyond their role as medical doctors.A self-administered questionnaire was developed. The survey was administered in teaching classes at the medical university of Vienna. One thousand four hundred (836 women and 564 men) students responded, laying the foundation for a thorough statistical analysis.59.5% of the students had reflected on their own belief concepts, 21.9% consider themselves religious, and 20.1% see themselves as spiritual individuals. 75.6% of the students agreed with the statement that religious conviction/spirituality might have an effect on how cancer patients cope. 85.9% would consider talking with their patients about religious/spiritual issues if patients wish to do so. 86.3% would involve chaplains if they feel it is necessary.The results of this study suggest that future doctors want to see the patient in a wider scope than the bio-psycho-social one, by including the meta-dimension of transcendence.