1 in 5 Catholic hospitals don't share religious affiliation online, study finds

About 21 percent of Catholic hospitals don't disclose information about their religious affiliation online, according to a study published March 19 in JAMA.

Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora conducted the study. Between July 2017 and January 2018, researchers reviewed the websites of 653 hospitals listed in the Catholic Health Care Directory for mentions of Catholic affiliations and associated care restrictions.

Four study findings:

1. Of 646 hospitals included in the analysis, 507 disclosed their Catholic identity online.

2. Among the 139 hospitals that did not disclose their affiliation, 107 used religious terms on their websites.

3. About 24 percent of all hospitals cited ethical and religious directives that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expects all Catholic facilities to follow. Ninety-five hospital websites offered a direct link to these directives.

4. Of the 494 hospitals that didn't cite the directives, 28 mentioned care restrictions and specifically cited end-of-life care restrictions. Only eight hospitals mentioned reproductive care restrictions.

"Many patients do not anticipate religious healthcare restrictions yet often face conflicts in care," senior author Maryam Guiahi, MD, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at University of Colorado's School of Medicine, told Reuters. "Like any restriction on healthcare, this often has the biggest impact on those who face systemic barriers to care, such as women with low incomes, people of color, LGBTQIA people, young people and people in rural areas."

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