Religious Characteristics of U.S. Physicians

A National Survey

The purpose of this study was to describe the religious characteristics of physicians in comparison to the broader United States population. A national probability sample of 2,000 physicians was surveyed using measures of religion and spirituality. Responses were compared to the national sample of U.S. households from the General Social Survey (GSS) using the Pearson c2 test and logistic regression.

Key Findings:

  • Over half (55%) of physicians agreed that their practice of medicine was shaped by their religious beliefs.
  • Physicians are just as likely as the general population to endorse any religious affiliation. Physicians are more likely to report membership in an underrepresented religion, such as Judaism or Hinduism, than the general population.
  • Physicians differ from the general population in that they are less likely to apply their religious beliefs in other areas (58% vs. 73%) or report relying on God as a coping method (29% vs. 61%).
  • Physicians are slightly more likely to attend religious services (at least two times a month; 46% vs. 40%) and more likely to say they are spiritual and not religious (20% vs. 9%) than the broader population.