The Spirituality/Religiosity of Family Medicine Physicians: Evaluation of SUS Open University (UNA-SUS) Trainees

ABSTRACT Introduction Many universities around the world have included religious or spiritual (R/S) issues in the undergraduate medicine curriculum, especially in USA and United Kingdom. The article aims to present the opinion of UNA-SUS/UFCSPA’s family medicine trainees about the teaching of R/S in undergraduate medical training, their perceptions about R/S in clinical practice and their personal religious profile. Methodology Cross-sectional design, using the UNA-SUS/UFCSPA online platform. All Brazilian students were invited to participate. Results 73 answers were obtained (17.2% response rate) among 423 students. 61.4% declared themselves as Catholic, 18.5% as Protestant and 8.6% Spiritist; 52.1% practice no religion, 86.3% believe in God, 89% believe that spiritual care is important or very important in health care and 94.6% consider that spirituality impacts on physical health. 60.3% consider that spiritual history is the most important ability to be learned and 72.2% believe that this issue should be taught in the undergraduate curriculum. The relevance attributed to R/S in medical care is not mediated by the student’s intrinsic religiosity, because there is no statistical correlation between the variables (p = 0.585). Physicians recognize the relevance of spirituality in patients’ lives and health, but they are less aware of their role as spiritual care providers. Conclusions The acceptance of the theme of R/S was considered very satisfactory. It is necessary to develop innovative pedagogic proposals, methodologically suited to medical practice in a public health system, both in graduate and undergraduate programs.