To assess the prevalence of religion and spirituality as a component of ophthalmology patients' value systems.
A brief questionnaire distributed to 124 consecutive patients was self-administered by the patient and was collected without identifier so that participants could be assured that answers would not affect their care. The main outcome measure was the prevalence of religious and spiritual beliefs and behaviors in ophthalmology patients.
The sample was predominantly Christian (76.6%). Of the participants, 82.3% reported that prayer was important (69.4% “very important” and 12.9% “moderately important”) to their sense of well-being, and 45.2% reported weekly attendance at religious services. The prevalence of positive religious and spiritual interpretations of God's role in illness was higher than that of negative religious appraisals of God's role in illness.
The prevalence and importance of religious and spiritual beliefs in this sample of ophthalmology patients suggests that, like other medical patient populations, religion and spirituality are significant, and often positive, components of patients' value systems. Attention to religion and spirituality is one aspect of acknowledging and respecting a patient's value system and of establishing a relationship that promotes trust for making joint therapeutic decisions.