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Jessica Schmit - Metaphysical Beliefs/Experiences w/ Physicians

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Metaphysical Beliefs And Experiences Among Physician Trainees

In Spring of 2014, we conducted a survey of physician trainees (residents and fellows) at the University of Florida. Our primary aim was to understand the various factors that influence a physician trainees’ comfort with end-of-life care and these results have been previously published. Our secondary aim was to characterize the attitudes and beliefs held by physician trainees regarding “metaphysical” experiences and results are presented further. We found that 10% of the physicians who responded to our survey reported that they had had an experience they considered metaphysical in nature. An additional 23% of physicians responded ‘maybe’ or ‘unsure’ to the same question. Compared to those who answered ‘no’, physicians who thought they had (or may have had) a metaphysical experience were much more likely to feel comfortable caring for dying patients. They also had less fear of death, greater spirituality (without increased religiosity), and were more likely to believe in an afterlife. Furthermore, they were more likely to state that metaphysical experiences were ‘real’, as opposed to being caused by biochemical disturbance. Our findings support that having a transcendental experience is common, even among medical professionals, and results in lasting positive effects on the individual.

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