Press Releases


Religion and Miracles: Doctors and General Public Share Similar Views

Majority of both groups believe in miracles and similar religious practices

Flemington, NJ, December 11, 2008 – The results of two national studies conducted among physicians and the general public revealed that an overwhelming majority of physicians members of the general public believe that miracles have happened in the past and can occur today.

The two studies were conducted by HCD Research during December 5-7 among 1,100 physicians, and 854 members of the general public to obtain their perceptions of faith, prayer and miracles in the medical field and everyday life.

Some commentators have described the United States as a religion-infused culture.  HCD Research conducted the two studies among physicians, and the general public to determine if there was any validity to these claims.

At first glance, the answer seems to be a resounding yes.  Both physicians and members of the general public strongly support religious principles and practices.  As expected, fewer physicians were oriented toward religion than the general public.  Almost half of the general public reported being religious conservatives, compared to over one quarter of physicians.

Whether they reported being liberal or conservative, the vast majority of both groups think of religion as a guide to everyday life and that prayer is an important part of life.  Equal numbers of physicians and the general public (43% and 41%) indicated that medical practice should reflect religious principles.  As for practice, half the physicians and three-quarters of the public sometimes pray for individual patients or another individual.

Miracles: The Supernatural Aspect of Religion

While both segments believe religion is a part of everyday life, what about miracles?  One would expect that physicians, close to scientists, would reject the idea.  Not so.  A clear majority of physicians (72%) and members of the public (86%) believe that miracles did happen in the past. And almost an equal number (70% and 85%), believe they are possible today.   A considerable number of both groups reported that some medical cures are miraculous; not explainable by rational science. Not surprisingly, the percentage of doctors who believe this is lower than the percentage for the general public, but not by a large margin.

The conclusion is that the commentators for the most part, are right in their assumption.  Most members of the general and almost as many physicians believe in religion.  Even with fewer doctors indicating that they are religious conservatives, they do believe in religion. What about their belief in miracles?   Belief in miracles seems to offer hope for both groups that things may work out when they seem impossible.

Among the findings:

Religious Beliefs/Practices: Physicians vs. the General Public

Personal

Physicians

General Public

Conservative in religionp>

27%

48%

Religion is a guide to life

69%

75%

Importance of prayer in everyday life
(very, somewhat important)

70%

77%

I pray for individuals/individual patients

54%

76%

Medical practice should be informed by religious principles                                

43%

41%

The inexplicable: Miracles

Physicians

General Public

Miracles in the past                  

72%

86%

Possibility of miracles now

70%

85%

Miracle medical cures (not explicable
by science)

39%

45%

The Media Curves web site provides the media and general public with a venue to view Americans’ perceptions of popular and controversial media events and advertisements.

Editors/Reporters: For more information on the study, or to speak with Glenn Kessler, president and CEO, HCD Research or John McNeill, pastor, Fairport United Methodist Church,  please contact Vince McGourty, HCD Research, at (908) 483-9121 or (vince.mcgourty@hcdi.net).