Dealing with requests for faith healing treatment

Siddharth Sarkar, Hiramalini Seshadri

Abstract

Faith healing practices are common in the Indian subcontinent, for remedying physical as well as psychiatric disorders. Patients and/ or their family members often resort to such treatment, especially when dissatisfied with the usual medical care or when the patient has a terminal illness. The application of the principles of medical ethics varies across cultures and time, and with the ethical principles to which a society subscribes. This write-up explores the various options available to healthcare professionals faced with patients and/or their family members who express a wish for faith healing services. The options discussed include outright rejection of faith healing practices, maintaining a distance or neutrality, endorsing such practices, and exploring the belief system of the patient and/or the family members. The various options are viewed from the lens of the principles of medical ethics.

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