Doctors don't need to actually provide spiritual care, Koenig said, but it's important for physicians to acknowledge their patients' spiritual needs and make sure they're addressed by pastoral care or hospice. "The doctor does have to be the one to orchestrate this," he said.
But if someone's spiritual needs are not being met, Koenig and Balboni agreed that the person -- or a friend or family member -- needs to speak up. And if the patient's doctor doesn't feel qualified to discuss end-of-life spiritual issues, the doctor should be able to refer you to someone who can.
The Hospice Foundation of American has more on spiritual care at the end of life.
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