A small minority of Americans surveyed consider the religious affiliation of the hospitals that treat them, but a majority said they didn't want religious doctrine dictating their healthcare choices, according to a study by researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus.
The study, published last week today in the journal JAMA Network Open , surveyed 1,446 adults and found that just 6.4% considered the religious affiliation of the hospitals they choose. Yet 71.4%, said that care should not be curtailed by religious dogma. This was especially true among women who are often denied certain reproductive healthcare at Catholic hospitals including birth control, tubal ligations and in vitro fertilization. Emerging health concerns related to transgender health and medical aid in dying have also highlighted conflicts in care for others.
People may expect restrictions on abortions but they are surprised to find common services like birth control are also restricted. They don't realize that they may not be getting care based on science but rather the care they get is based on religious dogma and doctrine." Maryam Guiahi, MD, study's lead author, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine
Guiahi said religion-based hospitals, especially Catholic ones, are expanding rapidly across the country, particularly in the Midwest. Many have merged to create expansive healthcare systems that may not advertise their religious underpinnings.
A previous website analysis by Guiahi showed that less than a third of Catholic hospitals provided any description of the kinds of care restricted at their facilities.
In 2016, 18.5% of all hospitals were religiously-affiliated. Of those, 9.4% were Catholic non-profit hospitals, 5.1% were Catholic-affiliated, and 4% were affiliated with other religions. Between 2001 and 2016, the number of Catholic acute care hospitals grew by 22%. In 2016, ten of the top 25 healthcare systems were Catholic - nearly half of them located in the Midwest. In some places, they were the only hospitals available. Related Stories
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