Religious factors can be important in the decision making of patients, healthcare professionals, and healthcare organizations. Paradigmatic examples of decisions involving religious factors are conscientious objection to abortion and patient resistance to postmortems, but religious elements may influence a much wider range of decisions in healthcare.

Religion, Culture, and Values

Defining what counts as a religious factor in decision making is not simple. There is no generally agreed-on definition of religion; for instance, not all religions have deities. Furthermore, in specific cases there is frequently no simple way of separating religious factors from cultural factors, because the same religion has developed different traditions in different geographical regions and in different societies.

In the case of the major scriptural religions, three or sometimes four elements come together to ...

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