News Briefs

Association addresses spirituality, medicine

With a growing body of research examining how spirituality and religion may affect health, the Southern Medical Journal becomes one of the first major medical association journals in the United States to dedicate regular coverage to the subject. The Southern Medical Association’s Spirituality/Medicine Interface Project will provide its members guidance in addressing the importance and effects of spirituality to their patients through regular quarterly journal articles, web-based seminars, and conferences.

Edward J. Waldron, executive vice president of the Southern Medical Association, says the addition of quarterly coverage of spiritual issues to the 100-year-old association’s journal will address a need for physicians to understand "how faith and religion may modulate their patients’ responses to disease." For more information about the Southern Medical Association’s Spirituality/Medicine Interface Project, go to

Ontario transplant act triples organ donations

Legislation enacted by the Ontario government in January 2006 requiring hospitals to report every death to the government-established Trillium Gift of Life organ donation network (TGLN) resulted in the donation rate in the province tripling in the law’s first 10 weeks, the network reports.

The new section of the TGLN act requires "routine notification and request" (RNR) by the province’s 13 type A hospitals for every death at the hospitals. TGLN says RNR ensures that accurate identification can be made of potential organ donors quickly, and their families can be given the opportunity for donation.

The new law is not without opposition, however. Some opponents to the act argue that the government is exerting undue pressure on Ontario residents to agree to organ donation, particularly in cases in which there is disagreement over the definition of brain death.

Patients recount ideal’ physician behaviors

Patients at the Scottsdale, AZ, and Rochester, NY, Mayo Clinics have helped researchers identify seven behaviors that make up "ideal" physicians, and what the study team learned is that medical students need work in the area of interpersonal relationships — also known as bedside manner.

The 192 patients surveyed detailed their best and worst experiences with Mayo physicians, and from these anecdotes, researchers found these to be the behaviors that describe an ideal physician:

  • confident;
  • empathetic;
  • humane;
  • personal;
  • forthright;
  • respectful; and
  • thorough.

Of the seven traits, "thorough" was the one named most often. The authors of the study, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings in March (, say patients can sense if their physician is rushed or not giving them his or her full attention. Study authors say their findings suggest new doctors receive training in interpersonal skills.