Table 2

Attitudes to spiritual care: GP views mapped onto a framework of enthusiasm for spiritual care

Categories of attitudes to spiritual care among GPs identified in a quantitative survey by Appleby et al27Example of attitudeViews expressed by GPs in this survey
RejectingDiscomfort with the concept and any spiritual healthcare“Not comfortable including spirituality in consultations.” Male, GP for 20–30 years
“What can I say. There is no evidence for any God.” Male, no religion, GP for 20–30 years
“I don’t feel this has anything to do with my role as a GP.” Female, no religion, GP for 6–10 years
“I'm not sure we need to be the people to ask about spiritual things. This sits better with a religious leader. I don't feel asking these questions really helps me to help them. It doesn't sit comfortably with a GP role in my opinion.” Female, Christian, GP for 20–30 years
GuardedLimited circumstances where a GP should be involved“I think I am very hesitant in asking as you hear of doctors being accused of causing offence etc.” Female, Christian, GP for 6–10 years
“I don’t see my role to take over a spiritual conversation unless directly relevant to medical choices.” Female, no religion, GP for 20–30 years
“I’m not sure this is my place and the only discussion I might have would be at the end of life.” Female, no religion, GP for 6–10 years
“Signposting to appropriate people is appropriate and probably a better use of the patient’s time.” Male, no religion, GP for 6–10 years
“Unless patient brings it up or it’s an end of life planning content it’s none of my business.” Female, Christian, GP for 6–10 years
PragmaticWilling to address the topic at patient request“I can remember the first time I asked a palliative patient about whether they had anyone they discussed spiritual matters with, I was nervous about asking, but the amazing response has made me ask almost all of my palliative patients since.” Male, no religion, GP for 11–20 years
“I will NEVER bring it up but would engage professionally with the patient in a positive manner.” Male, no religion, GP for 20–30 years
“I feel comfortable discussing spirituality if led by the patient.” Female, Christian, GP for 0–5 years
“The apparent importance of the spiritual aspects in Derek’s life and pending death would encourage to broach this more explicitly and respond accordingly.” Male, Christian, GP for 20–30 years
EmbracingEnthusiasm for the topic, and acceptance of the importance in healthcare“By comfortable I mean that I’m not afraid to discuss these things and think it’s important.” Female, Christian, GP for 11–20 years
“I would be comfortable asking what he is reading in the bible and discussing passages that may bring comfort to him and his wife if they wanted.” Female, Christian, GP for 20–30 years
“They have hugely valued talking about faith and praying together as we share the same faith. I have been able to still explore faith with those of different faiths.” Male, Christian, GP for 11–12 years
  • GP, general practitioner.