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Veritas Forum – Religion and Medicine: Should they Mix?

January 18, 2019 from 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm


Religion and Medicine: Should they Mix?: When are discussions of religion and spirituality appropriate in medicine?

There are many reasons for strong concern about physicians/healthcare providers bringing their religious beliefs into clinical practice and especially if they discuss religion with their patients. The power dynamic between physicians and patients can lead to many unintended consequences. One’s religious beliefs might bias them to make decisions that are not clinically advisable. What if the physician is of a different faith background than the patient? In addition, some might say most physicians aren’t trained to talk about these issues, so they should leave them to hospital chaplains. Lastly, there is the issue of time: Clinicians have too much to do, so why add one more thing to their plate?

On the other hand, many would acknowledge that religion/spirituality form an integral part of the lives of many patients with profound implications on their health. A growing number of empirical studies suggest a relationship between religion and its impact on health and patient care. Clinicians take social/sexual histories while often holding different social backgrounds/practices than their patients, and this standard clinical practice has enormous value despite many of the same concerns present as those above. Why not include a spiritual history?

This year’s Veritas Forum at Harvard Medical School will be a dialogue between 4 speakers with differing views on the issue. Come with an open mind and any questions you might have!

Religion and Medicine: Should they Mix?:  When are discussions of religion and spirituality appropriate in medicine?

Date: Friday, Jan. 18, 2019 / 6:30-8:30 pm

(Note: Dinner discussions immediately following the event will occur in rooms in the same building from 9-10pm)

Location: TMEC Amphitheater (260 Longwood Ave., Boston, MA 02115)

Click here to RSVP for the event 


RSVP for dinner discussions immediately following the event:  https://goo.gl/forms/7fm9lmE7Kv3nb9Pq1


Tia Powell, MD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine: Director of Montefiore Einstein Center for Bioethics (prior Executive Director of New York State’s bioethics commission).

Tyler VanderWeele, PhD, Harvard School of Public Health: Professor of Epidemiology (recipient of the 2017 COPSS Presidents’ Award, the “Nobel prize/Field’s Medal of statistics)

Lydia Dugdale, MD, Yale School of Medicine: Associate Director of the Program for Biomedical Ethics (editor of “Dying in the Twenty-first Century: Toward a New Ethical Framework for the Art of Dying Well)

Richard Sloan, PhD, Columbia University Medical Center: Professor of Behavioral Medicine/Psychiatry (author of “Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine”)


Howard Koh, MD, Harvard School of Public Health: Professor of the Practice of Public Health Leadership (former US Assistant Secretary for Health nominated by President Barak Obama)

Sponsored by:  Harvard Medical School Center for Bioethics, the Initiative on Health, Religion, and Spirituality at Harvard Medical School, the Thomistic Institute


TMEC Amphitheater
260 Longwood Ave
Boston, MA 02115 United States
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