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I have been nursing for more than 30 years and for over a decade have worked in palliative care. Throughout my career there have been encounters with health professionals whose religious beliefs clearly affect their attitude to medical intervention and symptom relief. This has been apparent across many healthcare genres, from obstetrics and neonatology to disability and aged care. The belief in a creator or supernatural force who is responsible for the giving and taking of life, and the consideration that suffering can be a positive experience, appear to undermine these health professionals' focus on patients' quality of life, and instead promote the preservation of life 'at any cost’.

Doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and politicians (for example the Australian politician Kevin Andrews and his Medical Treatment Act 1988. Please refer to discussion in this link) who are under the influence of a religious doctrine have surely contributed to many people living lives fraught with pain, or existing at a level incompatible with their ability to enjoy life.

It is unacceptable when a death-defying philosophy results in individuals being subjected to unnecessary treatment, or sub-optimal palliative care is imposed due to doctors and nurses who are tentative in administering the appropriate medications required to relieve distress. Empirically there seems a predominance of religious people involved in palliative care.

Countless people throughout the world are undoubtingly suffering due to the influence of religious ideologies in health care practice.


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