Atheist doctors are likely to practice medicine among the underprivileged than religious physicians, even though most religions call on the faithful to serve the poor, according to the results of large cross-sectional survey of US medical practitioners published in Annals of Family Medicine.
Researchers from the University of Chicago and Yale New Haven Hospital report that 31 percent of physicians who were more religiousâ€”as measured by “intrinsic religiosity” as well as frequency of attendance at religious servicesâ€”practiced among the underserved, compared to 35 percent of physicians who described their religion as atheist, agnostic or none.
“This came as both a surprise and a disappointment,” study author Farr Curlin, MD, said. “The Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist scriptures all urge physicians to care for the poor, and the great majority of religious physicians describe their practice of medicine as a calling. Yet we found that religious physicians were not more likely to report practice among the underserved than their secular colleagues.”
Physicians avoid spending the bulk of their time caring for the poor as it could mean forgoing professional prestige, free time and academic opportunities.