Maryam Guiahi MD, MSc Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine

Do Consumers Consider Religious Affiliation of Health Care Systems? Interview with:

Maryam Guiahi MD, MSc Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine

Dr. Guiahi

Maryam Guiahi MD, MSc
Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Colorado
Denver School of Medicine What is the background for this study?

Response: The composition of the U.S health care system is shifting; between 2001 to 2016 the number of Catholic-owned or affiliated health facilities grew by 22% in contrast to the overall number of acute care hospitals that decreased by 6% and the number of other nonprofit religious hospitals that decreased by 38%.

This is relevant as Catholic health care systems enforce religious directives that restrict many aspects of reproductive care and certain aspects of end-of-life care.  Yet little is known about the extent to which U.S. patients consider religious affiliation when selecting a health care facility. What are the main findings?

Response: In our national survey, we found that only 6% reported considering religious affiliation when selecting a health care facility.  Yet when we asked if their health choices should take priority over an institution’s religious affiliation the vast majority agreed (71%), and this was more common among female respondents.  These findings suggest that many health care consumers do realize not the implications of attendance at religiously affiliated health facilities on their health options. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: As Catholic health care systems continue to grow and expand with mergers and acquisitions, patients and other relevant stakeholders need to consider how such expansions will increasingly impact them and their community members.  Women are disproportionately impacted as they face restrictions to common reproductive services like contraception, sterilization, abortion, and infertility care in Catholic settings.  There are also emerging conflicts in care with respect to transgender and end of life care options. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?

Response: Certain legislative efforts have been initiated to improve transparency around institutional religious restrictions to care.  For example, in the state of Washington legislation dictates that health facilities advertise restrictions to care.  We need to better understand the extent to which such efforts improve health care consumers’ understanding of restrictions and helps to avoid conflicts in care.  We also need more data on the extent to which institutional religious restrictions to care impact patient outcomes.

Disclosures: Dr. Guiahi’s time was supported by the Society of Family Planning; the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Society of Family Planning.


Guiahi M, Helbin PE, Teal SB, Stulberg D, Sheeder J. Patient Views on Religious Institutional Health Care. JAMA Netw Open. 2019;2(12):e1917008. doi: 


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Last Modified: Dec 30, 2019 @ 7:41 pm


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