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The paediatrician and the rabbi
  1. Avinoam Shuper,
  2. Avraham Zeharia,
  3. Judy Balter-Seri,
  4. David Steier,
  5. Marc Mimouni
  1. Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel, Petah Tiqva, and Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel


    Objectives—During recent decades, rabbis in Israel have been playing an increasing role in the consultation of patients or their families on medical issues. The study was performed to determine the attitude of physicians to rabbinical consultation by parents of sick children for purposes of basic medical decision making.

    Design and setting–A questionnaire was prepared which contained questions regarding physicians' reactions to specific medical situations as well as their demographic data. The study participants included all the available physicians who were employed in the study period at one tertiary medical centre in Israel, which is not associated with any religious organisation. The questionnaire was presented personally to all of the physicians who were available for the study.

    Results–Between 63% and 77% of the respondents were accepting of rabbinical consultation in regard to medical decisions. Nevertheless, in cases of divergence from accepted medical practice and in emergencies, almost all stated they would take measures to resist the rabbi's advice. This attitude did not correlate with the physician's age, religious status or experience in medicine.

    Conclusions–Israeli physicians respect rabbis' suggestions in the area of medical decision making, though they would not let a rabbi's advice interfere with their decisions if they believed the rabbi's opinion went against medical need. In order to prevent an untoward effect of the rabbinical involvement in medicine, rules should be set to establish norms for rabbi-physician collaboration.

    • Medical decisions
    • rabbinic involvement
    • conventional medicine

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    • Avinoam Shuper, Avraham Zeharia, Judy Balter-Seri, David Steier and Marc Mimouni work in the Department of Pediatrics E, Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel, Petah Tiqva, and Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.

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