• Published: 14 June 2020
  • Volume 62 , pages 195–196, ( 2020 )

Cite this article

review of religious research

  • Kevin J. Flannelly 1  

1276 Accesses

Explore all metrics

Avoid common mistakes on your manuscript.

I had intended to a write an Editorial for my first issue as Editor-in-Chief of Review of Religious Research , in keeping with tradition, but I lost track of time and did not submit one. It took me a while to learn to use Springer’s online editorial manuscript system, and I was still adapting to the larger number of manuscripts than I was used to processing as the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Health Care Chaplaincy from 2008 through 2017. The transition has been somewhat similar to a football quarterback moving up from college to professional football. The skill set is the same, but the game seems to be played at a much faster pace.

My main motivation to write this Editorial is to thank Dr. Adair T. Lummis for her years of service as the Editor-in-Chief of Review of Religious Research , and for helping me make the transition to the Pro’s. As many of you may know, Adair became the Editor when Springer became the journal’s publisher in 2011. I joined the Research Religious Association a couple of years earlier, so I have had a window on her work. Among other things, she was a strong advocate of Denominational Research Reports as a way for denominational/applied researchers to briefly describe their research findings in the journal, increased the journal’s impact factor, and published over 500 pages of articles per year that generate the royalty payments that Spring annually pays to the Association. When I asked Adair to serve on the journal’s Editorial Board, she politely and humorously declined by telling me that would be like the out-going pastor staying in the congregation and looking over the new pastor’s shoulder.

Speaking of the Editorial Board, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the 62 distinguished religious researchers who agreed to serve a 2-year term on the journal’s Editorial Board. I also thank Dr. David E. Eagle, who is both an Editorial Board member and the new Book Review Editor, replacing Dr. Brian Miller who did a great job for the past several years.

As long as I have your attention, I would like to tell you about a few of the key changes to Review of Religious Research since January 1, 2020, if you have not had the chance to read the journal’s Aims & Scope and Instructions for Authors. One is that the journal, befitting its name, now publishes reviews of religious research. Another change is that manuscripts must have a structured abstract of 250–350 words, consisting of five sections: Background, Purpose, Methods, Results, and Conclusions and Implications. The last change I want to mention is that the journal publishes what were called Denominational Research Reports under the name Applied Research Abstracts. The name was changed from “Denominational Research” to “Applied Research” at the suggestion of Dr. Scott Thumma, and the name was change from “Reports” to “Abstracts” because they have the same structured format as the abstract of other articles, although Applied Research Abstracts should be 350–550 words.

I welcome and encourage manuscripts from all members of the Religious Research Association in the years to come, as well as from researchers who are not members of the Association. However, please carefully read the journal’s Aims & Scope ( https://www.springer.com/journal/13644/aims-and-scope ) and Instructions for Authors ( https://www.springer.com/journal/13644/submission-guidelines#Instructions%20for%20authors ) before submitting your manuscript at the journal’s submission website ( http://www.editorialmanager.com/rorr/ ).

Kevin J. Flannelly, Ph.D.

Editor-in-Chief

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

Center for Psychosocial Research, Massapequa, New York, USA

Kevin J. Flannelly

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kevin J. Flannelly .

Additional information

Publisher's note.

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Flannelly, K.J. Editorial. Rev Relig Res 62 , 195–196 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13644-020-00416-z

Download citation

Published : 14 June 2020

Issue Date : June 2020

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1007/s13644-020-00416-z

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • Find a journal
  • Publish with us
  • Track your research

Review of Religious Research

review of religious research

Subject Area and Category

  • Religious Studies

Sage Publications

Publication type

0034673X, 22114866

1977, 1979, 1985, 1989-1990, 1992, 1996-2023

Information

How to publish in this journal

[email protected]

review of religious research

The set of journals have been ranked according to their SJR and divided into four equal groups, four quartiles. Q1 (green) comprises the quarter of the journals with the highest values, Q2 (yellow) the second highest values, Q3 (orange) the third highest values and Q4 (red) the lowest values.

The SJR is a size-independent prestige indicator that ranks journals by their 'average prestige per article'. It is based on the idea that 'all citations are not created equal'. SJR is a measure of scientific influence of journals that accounts for both the number of citations received by a journal and the importance or prestige of the journals where such citations come from It measures the scientific influence of the average article in a journal, it expresses how central to the global scientific discussion an average article of the journal is.

Evolution of the number of published documents. All types of documents are considered, including citable and non citable documents.

This indicator counts the number of citations received by documents from a journal and divides them by the total number of documents published in that journal. The chart shows the evolution of the average number of times documents published in a journal in the past two, three and four years have been cited in the current year. The two years line is equivalent to journal impact factor ™ (Thomson Reuters) metric.

Evolution of the total number of citations and journal's self-citations received by a journal's published documents during the three previous years. Journal Self-citation is defined as the number of citation from a journal citing article to articles published by the same journal.

Evolution of the number of total citation per document and external citation per document (i.e. journal self-citations removed) received by a journal's published documents during the three previous years. External citations are calculated by subtracting the number of self-citations from the total number of citations received by the journal’s documents.

International Collaboration accounts for the articles that have been produced by researchers from several countries. The chart shows the ratio of a journal's documents signed by researchers from more than one country; that is including more than one country address.

Not every article in a journal is considered primary research and therefore "citable", this chart shows the ratio of a journal's articles including substantial research (research articles, conference papers and reviews) in three year windows vs. those documents other than research articles, reviews and conference papers.

Ratio of a journal's items, grouped in three years windows, that have been cited at least once vs. those not cited during the following year.

Evolution of the percentage of female authors.

Evolution of the number of documents cited by public policy documents according to Overton database.

Evoution of the number of documents related to Sustainable Development Goals defined by United Nations. Available from 2018 onwards.

Scimago Journal & Country Rank

Leave a comment

Name * Required

Email (will not be published) * Required

* Required Cancel

The users of Scimago Journal & Country Rank have the possibility to dialogue through comments linked to a specific journal. The purpose is to have a forum in which general doubts about the processes of publication in the journal, experiences and other issues derived from the publication of papers are resolved. For topics on particular articles, maintain the dialogue through the usual channels with your editor.

Scimago Lab

Follow us on @ScimagoJR Scimago Lab , Copyright 2007-2024. Data Source: Scopus®

review of religious research

Cookie settings

Cookie Policy

Legal Notice

Privacy Policy

Religious Research Association

Journal: Review of Religious Research

The Review of Religious Research is published four times a year (September, December, March and June). The journal seeks to provide a regular channel for the exchange of information on methods, findings and uses of religious research. It contains a variety of articles, book reviews and reports on research projects.

More information is on Sage’s website for the Review of Religious Research .

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • View all journals
  • Explore content
  • About the journal
  • Publish with us
  • Sign up for alerts
  • CAREER FEATURE
  • 20 May 2024

How religious scientists balance work and faith

  • Anne Marie Conlon

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

You have full access to this article via your institution.

Anurag Chaurasia holds up a tube of water from the holy river Ganga

In Varanasi, India, biotechnologist Anurag Chaurasia collects water samples from the River Ganges, which is sacred to Hindus. Credit: Shri Kashi Vishwanath Baba

For the past 20 years, Elaine Howard Ecklund has studied scientists’ attitudes towards religion. What she’s found, through more than 40,000 surveys and nearly 2,500 confidential interviews, is that there are more religious scientists than many people would expect. In one study, at least 30% of respondents declared a religious affiliation ( E. H. Ecklund et al. Socius https://doi.org/mvrv; 2016 ).This study surveyed scientists from eight countries and regions, including the United Kingdom, India, Hong Kong, Turkey and the United States. Globally, around 85% of the population identifies as religious (see go.nature.com/3yatbk5 ). Ecklund’s research has also found that scientists are not always open about their faith at work or in education settings. “I think there is the perception sometimes that other scientists won’t take you seriously if you talk about your faith,” says Ecklund, a sociologist based at Rice University in Houston, Texas.

Confidentiality, says Ecklund, allowed the scientists she surveyed to be more open about their faith than they might otherwise have been. “They were almost waiting to talk about it,” she says. “They feel like there’s so much silence within the scientific community about religion — it felt somewhat of a relief to talk about their own approach to religion in a safe environment.”

Ecklund has also found that many scientists are quite open to their colleagues’ beliefs. “Atheist scientists are much less negative about religion than we might be led to believe by the loudest voices, which we often think are the most numerous ones. And that’s often not the case,” she says. For example, her 2016 study found that in the United States, two-thirds of scientists do not view the science–religion relationship as one of conflict.

review of religious research

Serving science and the Church as the Pope’s astronomer

Ecklund has found that attitudes to faith in the workplace vary by country. For example, she says, “Indian scientists assume that there’ll be more discussion of religion within scientific contexts. So, there’s sometimes blessings over experiments. There is an assumption that staff in a lab will want to have time off for spiritual and religious holidays.”

Nature spoke to five religious scientists about how they navigate faith at work. Their experiences differ, but none felt a conflict between their beliefs and their science. Although none had experienced any direct discrimination on the basis of their religion, some did admit to being less open about their faith in particular professional contexts.

Many say that science and religion work in harmony as ways of understanding the world. Anurag Chaurasia, a biotechnologist with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research in Varanasi, recalls how, as a graduate student, he and his classmates would follow the guiding principles of the Hindu text the Bhagavad Gita to help them find direction. When experiments went awry, for example, their professor would instruct them: “Read the first message of this book, ‘Do your duty without being attached to the fruits of your action; do your duty selflessly.’” This guidance, says Chaurasia, taught him and his colleagues perseverance and how to handle failure. Bhagavad Gita principles also shaped group yoga sessions to aid relaxation and support good mental health, and brought them together as a team.

Re-examination

Mikaela Lee, a technical instructor in biomedical sciences at Solent University in Southampton, UK, says that her strong Christian faith informs her world view. “The way I approach science, personally, is as a way to glorify God and find out more about his creation,” she adds.

Raised in California as an evangelical Christian, Lee experienced how a more conservative set of beliefs can be in conflict with science. “I grew up believing in creationism, that God created the world. Evolution was kind of like a dirty word in my church,” she says. “But I also believed that we, as human beings, had almost an obligation to study the natural world and discover things about it, especially for medical research. And as I got older, I decided that you couldn’t take bits and pieces: you either had to accept all of the science or none of it.” This led her to adjust her religious beliefs to accommodate scientific evidence.

“The evidence that I saw was quite convincing. When we studied evolution in school, it kind of clicked in my brain. And it doesn’t just make sense. It’s beautiful. It’s elegant. That was the tipping point for me.” Lee found herself re-examining many of the conservative beliefs that she’d been taught growing up. After moving to the United Kingdom for university in 2018, she joined the more liberal United Reformed Church, which, she says, has many scientist members.

Portrait of Benjamin Grandey at his desk

Climate scientist Benjamin Grandey has been able to have conversations about his religious faith at work thanks to an open workplace culture. Credit: Benjamin Stephen Grandey

For climate scientist Benjamin Grandey, who is based in Singapore, his Christian faith informs his science: “My theology helps me to appreciate the value of why science works, because I believe in a God who has made a very ordered Universe, and that he has given us, as human beings, the ability to understand a lot about that Universe.” For example, Grandey points out that mathematics, a human construct, is “so good at providing tools to describe physical phenomena in the world beyond our minds”.

Assumed atheism

Sociologist Christopher Scheitle surveyed more than 1,300 graduate students about their experiences and their attitudes to religion. He found that many religious people studying science struggle to be open about their faith, reporting a culture of ‘assumed atheism’ that often led them to conceal their religion for fear of being judged or discriminated against (see go.nature.com/4brey69 ). “I remember having several conversations with students who were very thoughtful about hiding the fact that they were religious,” says Scheitle, who is based at West Virginia University in Morgantown. One said that she purposely avoided revealing her religious beliefs until she had established herself as a scientist. “Her fear was that if people knew early in the programme, she would immediately be labelled as ‘not a serious scientist’.”

review of religious research

Religion and science can have a true dialogue

Their fears were understandable, because the culture of assumed atheism meant that other students and professors felt they could speak dismissively about religion, Scheitle says. “Among students who are more religious, it is a fairly common experience that they hear offhand negative or stereotypical comments about religion or religious people,” he adds, either in the classroom or in the laboratory or departmental offices.

As Scheitle notes in his 2023 book The Faithful Scientist , when people conceal a part of their identity, it can be isolating. “Research has found that this concealment itself often ends up being harmful to their own psychological well-being and to their sense of connection to others,” he writes.

Some graduate students that Scheitle spoke to have established their own communities, who meet for prayer and discussions on faith. Those who were open about their faith admitted having awkward interactions with their non-religious peers. “You can tell [that some co-workers] get uncomfortable, and they change the subject,” said one chemistry student. “It’s not something that’s deterred me from being who I am, but I hate the awkward interactions.”

Suzanne Kalka is open about her Pentecostal faith and has worked with organizations that promote harmony between science and religion in her role as a science educator based in Manchester, UK. One of these organizations is God and the Big Bang , which runs school workshops to encourage students to discuss the compatibility of science and faith. But in her previous career as a science teacher, Kalka says that she felt less free to discuss her religion. She taught mainly in secular schools, and, especially in her early career, felt a need to prove herself, deciding not to put her role at risk by singling herself out through her religious beliefs. “It’s tough, because you’re living two lives — you don’t want to risk your scientific credibility by being openly religious. I didn’t wear any kind of outward signs of any religious belief. I lived a very compartmentalized life. I wanted to be seen to be a very competent teacher of science.”

review of religious research

People of faith are allies to stall climate change

Towards the end of her teaching career, Kalka decided that she wanted to be more forthright about her faith. She took a role in a Church of England school and found that she could be more open. “But even there,” she added, “it was a minority of science teachers who had any religious belief at all, and it was never discussed.”

Kalka thinks that science teachers who are religious still find it difficult to be open about their beliefs. Her advice to them is to offer examples of famous scientists who combined a life of faith with their scientific achievements. She cites data showing that 75% of scientists who won a Nobel prize between 1901 and 2000 were of Judaeo-Christian faith (B. A. Shalev 100 Years of Nobel Prizes ; 2002).

An accepting culture

Faadiel Essop says that growing up in apartheid South Africa made him think more broadly about things. In the 1990s, his country rejected its history of government-sanctioned racial segregation, and he thinks that this has led to a more sensitive, tolerant society, in which he feels able to express his Muslim faith and identity. “There’s a lot of space for you to express yourself in general in society.”

A medical physiologist at Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa, and the director of the university’s Centre for Cardio-metabolic Research in Africa, Essop says there’s a strong culture of acceptance and a willingness to make accommodations for religious practices, both at Stellenbosch and across Africa more generally. Essop travels across the continent regularly for scientific meetings and says that he’s seen both Muslims and Christians being “quite comfortable to express their religion”.

Portrait of Faadiel Essop

Faadiel Essop says there’s a culture of openness in discussions of faith in South Africa. Credit: Wilma Stassen

Closer to home, his university colleagues are sure to provide him with halal foods (those permitted by Islamic law) at meetings or events, and the teaching schedule leaves gaps on Fridays for congregational prayers. This year, the head of his department came to speak to him before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to discuss the daily fasts that he would be undertaking. “There is that empathy. It’s not necessary, but it’s nice. It shows that he’s got an interest, and I can explain what I do.”

An open workplace culture has also helped Grandey to be comfortable discussing his faith at work. The climate physicist moved to Singapore after growing up and completing his studies in the United Kingdom. He has found that office environments that are culturally diverse, in which people are open to discussing their personal lives, leave room for conversations about faith, too.

“In my last workplace, the Singapore–MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, it was very international, very diverse. I remember enjoying many stimulating conversations with colleagues from other Asian countries who had not had much exposure to Christianity. They were very open to learning about what I believed as a Christian, and sharing about their own beliefs, too,” says Grandey, who is now a research fellow at Nanyang Technological University.

Risks of ruling out religion

Essop sees the often-strict divide between science and religion, especially in places where he’s lived and worked in the United Kingdom and the United States, as a barrier to the free exploration of ideas. Discussing evolution and the origins of life, for example, in such environments could lead to stilted conversation.

“That’s where religion has been sidelined in a way, because the two, work and religion, are viewed as separate domains. Personally, I think they’re an integrated whole.”

From her studies, Ecklund thinks that accepting the existence of religion in a scientific context can help to encourage diversity. “Our studies show that people may be kept out of science to some extent because they’re religious, either that they don’t ever go into science, because they think religious people can’t be scientists, or that they feel like they have to hide that they’re religious.”

Close-up of Elaine Howard Ecklund speaking at a conference

Sociologist Elaine Howard Ecklund studies scientists’ attitudes towards religion. Credit: Michael Stravato

Women and people of colour — groups that the scientific community strives to attract and retain — are more likely to identify as religious. “By raising suspicion about religious people, we, as scientists, may be inadvertently keeping racial and ethnic minorities and women out of science,” she says.

Essop has devised a graduate teaching module on the philosophy of science and “influences that can shape science”. He encourages other educators and researchers to fold spiritual and philosophical elements into academic discussions, because he thinks an approach to science that considers other belief systems will nurture more-inclusive attitudes in his students.

“We’ve got to look at more-holistic training,” he says, and at other systems – such as Indigenous knowledge, which has inspired “an awakening” of interest around the world. “We’re looking at science a bit differently — that it’s not just an absolute thing, but instead we consider many facets.”

Nature 629 , 957-959 (2024)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-024-01471-0

Related Articles

review of religious research

  • Scientific community

I had my white colleagues walk in a Black student’s shoes for a day

I had my white colleagues walk in a Black student’s shoes for a day

Career Q&A 28 MAY 24

Changemakers — Nature’s new series celebrates champions of inclusion in science

Changemakers — Nature’s new series celebrates champions of inclusion in science

Editorial 28 MAY 24

Researcher parents are paying a high price for conference travel — here’s how to fix it

Researcher parents are paying a high price for conference travel — here’s how to fix it

Career Column 27 MAY 24

Adopt stricter regulation to stop ‘critical mineral’ greenwashing

Correspondence 28 MAY 24

India cuts periodic table and evolution from school textbooks — experts are baffled

India cuts periodic table and evolution from school textbooks — experts are baffled

News 31 MAY 23

Why is India dropping evolution and the periodic table from school science?

Why is India dropping evolution and the periodic table from school science?

Editorial 30 MAY 23

Treatment of missing data determined conclusions regarding moralizing gods

Treatment of missing data determined conclusions regarding moralizing gods

Matters Arising 07 JUL 21

Postdoctoral and Visiting Scholar positions in Immunology, Stem Cells, and Cancer

Postdoctoral Research Fellow and Visiting Scholar positions in immunology, stem cells and cancer are immediately available at UConn in USA

Storrs Mansfield, Connecticut

University of Connecticut-Lai's Lab

review of religious research

Zhejiang Provincial Hospital of Chinese Medicine on Open Recruitment of Medical Talents and Postdocs

Director of Clinical Department, Professor, Researcher, Post-doctor

Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China

The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang Chinese Medical University

review of religious research

Postdoc in Biomechanical Engineering (m/f/d)

The Muskuloskelettales Universitätszentrum München (MUM) on the Campus Großhadern invites applications for the department Orthopädie

Munich (Stadt), Bayern (DE)

PWG-LMU Klinikum

review of religious research

Assistant, Associate or Full Professor

The McLaughlin Research Institute and Touro University – Montana campus invite applications for open rank faculty positions.

McLaughlin Research Institute

review of religious research

Postdoctoral Associate- Neuroscience

Houston, Texas (US)

Baylor College of Medicine (BCM)

review of religious research

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Quick links

  • Explore articles by subject
  • Guide to authors
  • Editorial policies

Review of Religious Research

( API-Link )

Impact Factor : 1.500 (based on Web of Science 2022)

  • # 5 / 119 (Q1) in Religion
  • # 85 / 141 (Q3) in Sociology

Altmetric Attention Score: 23

Partner: • University Press Alert

Church Life Journal

A Journal of the McGrath Institute for Church Life

  • Home ›

The Original Vision: Edward Robinson and the Spiritual Life of Children

by Daniel McClain May 27, 2024

Ludwik Stasiak, Nun Praying with Children

The moments of happiness—not the sense of well-being, Fruition, fulfilment, security or affection, Or even a very good dinner, but the sudden illumination— We had the experience but missed the meaning, And approach to the meaning restores the experience In a different form . . . —T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

A few years ago, I was in Denver visiting with Jerome Berryman , creator of a well-known Montessori-based children’s catechesis program known as "Godly Play." We had begun corresponding a couple years earlier because I had been teaching a course on children’s literature and theology at my university, and had adapted it for a seminary audience. Dr. Berryman discovered somehow that I incorporated Godly Play resources in my teaching. An online conversation led to an invitation to travel to Colorado. Before long, I was en route .

Jerome keeps a library and archive near his home. Like all academics, Jerome’s pride in his book collection was evident. We lingered amongst the shelves. Maria Montessori, Sofia Cavaletti, and other members of Montessori’s inner circle are all there. Jerome sparkled as he recounted his own training at the Montessori School in Bergamo, Italy. We talked about Heidegger, Rowan Williams, Pope Benedict XVI, poetry, and history.

He casually handed me a book and asked me if I knew it. That book was Edward Robinson’s The Original Vision . Always one to jump on good book recommendations, I snapped up a copy of The Original Vision , an American edition published by Seabury Press in 1978.

The Religious Experience Research Unit

Edward Robinson, the younger brother of the controversial English bishop, John A. T. Robinson, was an English educator, botanist, sculptor, and researcher. The son and nephew of well-known priests in the Church of England, Edward read classics at Oxford and began his career as an educator in former English colonies on the African continent, where for fifteen years he collected numerous specimens of grasses, discovering and naming several species (fifteen of which are named after him), some of which are housed at Kew Gardens . Robinson was known to have one of the largest personal collections of grasses in the world.

About three years after Robinson returned to England, he received an invitation to join a new research program at Oxford University, called the Religious Experience Research Unit (RERU). Founded just a year before, the RERU was the brainchild of Sir Alister Hardy, a marine biologist with a voracious intellectual appetite and an artistic temperament. [1]

In 1963-64, Hardy was invited to give the Gifford Lectures. “Evolution and the spirit of Man” (later published as The Living Stream and The Divine Flame ) challenges a purely material theory of evolution, and argues that religious/spiritual experience is a phenomenon tied to reality. Spiritual experiences are a natural part of human life.

What Sir Alister presented as a research interest in the early sixties became a research project by 1969, collecting and analyzing responses to his invitation to the British public to answer the question: “Have you ever experienced a presence or power, whether you call it God or not, which is different from your everyday self?”

Hardy described his team as “naturalists hunting specimen of human existence . . . anthropologists in our own society—indeed, of course, the anthropologists are the naturalists of mankind.” [2] Their question ultimately generated around 6000 responses, 400 of which were processed by the RERU research staff between 1970 and 1977. Today that data is held in an archive at the Sir Alister Hardy Trust Religious Experience Research Centre at the University of Wales Trinity St. David. In 1985, Sir Alister received the John Templeton Prize for his work in religious research.

Edward Robinson

Edward Robinson joined the RERU in 1970, invited by Hardy himself, who was drawn to what he and Robinson shared in common: a propensity to scientific classification as well as a curious amalgam of capacities in religion, education, and botany. Within seven years Hardy had stepped down as Director, and Robinson took the helm.

During his first seven years at the RERU, prior to his appointment as Director, Robinson combed through, classified, and published findings related to the initial 4000 responses to Sir Alister’s question. Throughout this first phase of his work, he noticed something remarkable in the data. He recounts, “Some 15% of our correspondents . . . started by going back to events and experiences of their earliest years.” [3] That 600 respondents narrated meaningful experiences of a religious, spiritual, or mystical nature in early childhood is significant, Robinson clarifies, because it bucks the received canonical understanding of a transition from “childhood incompetence to the adult ability to give correct solutions.” [4] The testimonies provoked Robinson: “I began to wonder whether there were not in quite young children capacities for insight and understanding that had been underrated by the developmental psychologists. Here it seemed might be a valuable source for information to complement the prevailing view.”

As he dug deeper into the initial testimonies collected by the RERU, simple complementarity became less tenable, not because Robinson wanted to reject developmentalism tout court , but because the a priori imposition of a chronological framework obscured what Robinson found most fascinating in the responses. Not only that, but Robinson notes that a developmental model would automatically raise questions about the validity or objectivity of a childhood memory simply because it was from childhood. [5] “How reliable . . . are such records? . . . How far can we really trust [a 50-year-old narrative, for instance] as a historical record?” [6]

For Robinson, however, the perduring quality of such a memory, the way it grounded and illuminated subsequent life experiences, thoughts, and values overrode historical concerns. [7] The question is not whether the knowledge of childhood is objectively correct, but whether for the knower it is certain. “She may have been wrong, but the idea never entered her head, either at the time [whilst a child] or subsequently.” [8] Moreover, Robinson points out that questions of historical veracity only attends to one aspect of an adult’s ongoing experience and misses what he refers to as an everyday, ongoing process, initiated by “childhood,” and in which religious experience is not, typically, a rare and dramatic thing, but “really quite ordinary.” [9]

Critiquing Developmentalism

Robinson believed that developmental psychology, however valuable for its introduction of epistemology and clinical observation to the psychological process with children, could not comprehend the role that childhood religious experience played in the lives of his adult respondents. Fundamental to his critique, Robinson saw an implicit bias in Piaget and his heirs, and one that continued to plague education. “Piaget,” he accuses,

Is . . . continually setting children an exam in a subject that adults are good at and children bad. Predictably, the children fail . . . if children are really to be thought of as little more than inefficient adults, then the prime function of education is to turn them into efficient ones. [10]

Looking at testimonies of experiences as early as four or five years old, [11] he rejected psychological commitments like Ronald Goldman’s “negative and patronizing” conclusion that “religious insight generally begins to appear between the ages of 12 and 13.” [12] Piaget and Goldman prized the acquisition of analytic thinking, which Piaget located in the formal operational stage, beginning as early as 11 years old. Goldman himself made analysis an epistemological prerequisite for religious experience. Robinson pushed back on all this: analytic thought does not undo the immediacy or solidity of childhood experiences, at whatever age, or even the ways they continue to shape the person.

Robinson pressed against this solipsistic, isolated, and cognitively overdetermined understanding, as if religious experience is merely self-revelation or the revelation of an abstract God. Instead, these experiences are “immediate” and “unquestionably real” experiences of “something real” outside of the child, experiences that constitute a “self-authenticating” “original vision” that informs the self through adulthood. [13]

What I began to see emerging from Robinson’s critique of this epistemologically overdetermined theory of childhood was twofold: 1) the relationship between forms of knowledge and religious experience needed to be entirely rethought; and 2) religious experience is perhaps so commonplace in children that we who look for the spectacular might be overlooking the actual religious lives of children. Robinson’s constructive proposal would shift the narrative completely, and would reframe the relationship of childhood to personhood.

Mystery & Synthesis

Robinson saw a mysterious quality of childhood that sequential thinking was not able to see. “Unless we think purely in chronological terms, childhood can never be a simple concept.” [14]

Robinson’s initial data set, as well as the qualitative value of the testimonies themselves, gave him what he needed to look for an alternative to developmentalism. Robinson issued nine additional questions to “about 500” respondents, 360 of which responded (the questions and data analysis are all included as appendices). [15]

The result of this additional study led to The Original Vision , which is not only a theoretical alternative, but an interpretation of the RERU’s in-depth study and the additional questionnaire. Robinson classifies the additional 360 responses into nine kinds of experience, or ways of getting into the experience of childhood.

In summary, Robinson argues that childhood is a “ self-authenticating . . . form of knowledge,” akin to “mystical” experience (although he takes issue with how vague that word can be), that must be studied over time as a “natural” and “ religious ” phenomenon, “in purposive terms,” and with “sympathetic insight.” [16] By self-authenticating, Robinson distinguished between self-authorizing and self-aware, and embraced both. First, the experience of childhood that is retrieved in reflection needs no external confirmation for it to hold authority in the person’s life. Second, the experience “bring[s] to the person . . . an awareness of the true self as individual.” [17]

The bulk of The Original Vision is comprised not of Robinson’s analysis, but of the correspondents’ testimonies. These first-hand accounts are disarming and raw. Often, there is an immediacy to them, as if the correspondent is relaying an experience that happened days or weeks ago, rather than decades.

One of the first accounts that Robinson shares comes from an interview that he conducted. The interviewee recounts a sense of certainty in his experience along the lines of the first sense of self-authentication. He says,

From my present age, looking back some half a century, I would say now that I did then experience—what? a truth, a fact, the existence of the divine. What happened was telling me something. But what was it telling? The fact of divinity, that it was good? Not so much the moral sense, but that it was beautiful, yes, sacred. [18]

Here we see that the interviewee is not so much caught in the reverie of make-believe (a la Piaget’s pre-operational stage), but conscious of an experience of otherness and, indeed, beauty.

Importantly, the respondent admits to not having the linguistic capacity to convey his experience at the time. However, the sense of surety that arose in that moment remained with him, right up to the moment of the interview, “some half a century” later. If not linguistically mediated, whence this certainty? Robinson prods this question early and throughout the book, curious about what model of childhood can accommodate and respect these adults’ claims to some variety of real experience, experiences that Robinson maintains are more commonplace than esoteric.

Most respondents recall experiences that begin with quotidian activities or surroundings—walks, school, kitchens, shops, etc. A sixty-four-year-old woman talks about sitting in her mother’s lap at five years old, feeling sorry for her mother’s small-minded notions of God. [19] Another respondent, a forty-nine-year-old woman, recalls hating her mother and doctor for taking her tonsils out. [20] Men and women of all ages recall experiencing “otherness” and “individuation” and “flashes [of] awareness” at early ages amidst ordinary activities like walking to and from school or visiting their parents in workplaces, all experiences that developmental staging arguably preclude. [21] One respondent tells of her grammar school teacher’s invitation to practice the loving presence of Christ “who was above all a friend to children,” and how this invitation led to her certainty that she was understood. [22]

Whereas developmental thinking maintains the distinction between the fantastical, imaginative lives of young children and the practical, discursive, and analytical thinking of older children, Robinson is fascinated by the way that adults continue to ground their adult lives in the experiences, and even knowledge, of these early years. [23] “The great majority of those whose experience led me to this study are men and women in whom the original vision of childhood never faded.” [24] Of course, he acknowledges, this will be a problem for many. “Some may still feel it intolerably paradoxical to base a study of childhood on the records of those who have in years at least left it so far behind.” [25]

But where cynics see distance, Robinson posits something like the nutrient-rich soil of a garden. “To have attempted an assessment of the childhood experience of any of these writers at an earlier age would have been in some respects at least premature; that they would not yet have had their experience, or not yet had it sufficiently for a proper judgment to be made of it.” [26]

Without saying it explicitly, Robinson has articulated a vision of childhood that is not defined or delimited to years of a person’s life, but rather a “slow process” of reflection on a kind of knowledge, [27] stretched out over a life like a lens, not to obscure nature, but rather to more faithfully reveal it. “Metaphysics must start with personal experience.” [28] The vision of childhood is a vision that helps us see both the limits of our own seeing and infinite capaciousness beyond our personal experiences. “This significance of the insignificant is a theme central to the biblical, the Christian tradition. The still small voice, the grain of mustard seed, the one coin lost, the single sparrow dead—these are the stuff of which religious experience is made.” [29]

This concluding theme is captured rather powerfully near the middle of the book by one respondent, a forty-five-year-old woman.

I think I have been simply trying, in adult life, to grow towards the vision of childhood, and to comprehend more fully the significance of the light which was so interwoven into those early years. The original impact of light was so powerful that my inner world still reverberates with it. Later logic chopping, analysis and interpretation have in no way diminished the immediacy of that impact. Very importantly: this same consciousness of light has proved to be translatable as the light of common day living. In my own extremis, I have tried to remember the light and stand by it. [30]

Developmental thinking alone cannot comprehend childhood as Robinson saw it expressed in the lasting influence of his correspondents’ ongoing experience of their own childhood. The analysis of childhood testimony of religious experience in The Original Vision is eye-opening to those who may have adopted a certain kind of model of childhood that is dependent on development or injury. Instead of childhood as a developmental phase [31] or symbolizing a traumatic repression or recovery, [32] we see emerge from the first-hand testimony of these responses a vision of childhood that provides adulthood with the possibility of an integrated, mature wholeness.

The Original Vision provides a starting point by framing childhood as a “synthetic comprehension” that is not destroyed by the later acquisition of analytic thinking. Rather, it remains as a holistic knowledge that makes possible the condition of other kinds of knowledge throughout life.

It is unfortunate that aside from several reviews and scattered mention in few articles, The Original Vision has faded into obscurity. A study similar to Robinson’s was undertaken by Edward Hoffman. [33] Yet, developmental thinking continues to dominate the way we treat childhood, if not in the academy then at least in popular thinking and practice.

Robinson’s observation of adult testimony of childhood experience bids us to ask, “What happens, or what is gained in childhood that makes it possible to tell our stories as adults?” A fulsome answer to this question depends on our ability to see the enduring power of childhood throughout the entirety of human life.

[1] Like many naturalists, Hardy was artistic in skill and imagination. During WWII, Hardy’s army career consisted in designing camouflage patterns.

[2] Hardy, “Forward,” in Robinson, The Original Vision , 4.

[3] Robinson, The Original Vision , 11.

[4] The Original Vision, 10.

[5] For a “genetic epistemologist” like Piaget, a childhood memory lacks credibility because of its non-clinical origin but also because most of memories collected by the RERU come from the pre-operational stage (two to seven years old). In the pre-operational stage, a child lacks the concrete reasoning to be able to distinguish between symbol and reality, or to abstract the symbol as representative of concepts. Robinson’s respondents, on the other hand, claimed to have experiences while in the age range of the pre-operational stage, and to be able to distinguish their experiences from symbolic make-believe, and arrived at conceptual outcomes.

[6] The Original Vision, 13. Cf. Robinson, This Timebound Ladder: Ten Dialogues on Religious Experience (Oxford: The Religious Experience Research Unit, 1977), 71-72.

[7] The Original Vision, 23: “The possibility that there is something here that must be taken serious is clearly felt as some kind of threat; to question the authenticity of the records is the first and most obvious defense.”

[8] The Original Vision, 20.

[9] The Original Vision, 15.

[10] The Original Vision , 10.

[11] The Original Vision, 11. On studying the first hand accounts, “I began to wonder whether there were not in quite young children capacities for insight and understanding that had been underrated by the developmental psychologists.”

[12] Goldman, Religious Thinking from Childhood to Adolescence (Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964), 226, cited in The Original Vision , 11.

[13] The Original Vision, 16 and 22.

[14] The Original Vision, 15.

[15] The Original Vision , 157-71.

[16] The Original Vision, 16. All emphases original unless otherwise noted.

[17] The Original Vision, 16.

[18] The Original Vision, 35.

[19] The Original Vision , 69.

[20] The Original Vision , 111.

[21] The Original Vision , 113-15.

[22] The Original Vision , 84.

[23] The Original Vision, 19.

[24] The Original Vision , 148.

[25] The Original Vision , 144.

[26] The Original Vision, 145.

[27] The Original Vision , 145.

[28] The Original Vision, 146.

[29] The Original Vision, 147.

[30] The Original Vision, 55.

[31] Cf. Jean Piaget, “The theory of stages in cognitive development,” in D. R. Green, M. P. Ford, & G. B. Flamer, Measurement and Piaget (McGraw-Hill, 1971), and Piaget, The Child’s Conception of the World, tr. J. & A. Tomlinson (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1929), 62, cited in Robinson, The Original Vision, 9-10.

[32] Cf. Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle . Childhood gives rise in the adult to an “unpleasurable tension” that originates in a traumatic neurosis which is a repressed memory of a childhood event.

[33] See Hoffman, Visions of Innocence: Spiritual and Inspirational Experiences of Childhood (Boston: Shambhala, 1992).

Featured Image: Ludwik Stasiak, Nun Praying with Children, before 1924; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-70. 

review of religious research

Daniel McClain

Dan McClain holds a PhD in Historical and Systematic Theology from the Catholic University of America, and previously taught theology at the General Theological Seminary (NYC) and Loyola University Maryland. Dan's current areas of expertise and interest include children and children's literature, theological education and formation, and the relationship between church practice and doctrine.

Read more by Daniel McClain

Reading Children's Literature After the Tragedy of School Shootings

June 27, 2022 | LuElla D’Amico

1900 Dhs Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas Visits Robb Elementary School Memorial Site

Newsletter Sign up

Deseret News

Are religious people happier? The science is pretty clear

D ebates about the impact of religion in the world have been going on for a long time. There is one facet of that debate, however, which, scientifically speaking, is largely settled. From the standpoint of statistics and empirical evidence, how much do we know about whether religious or nonreligious people are happier?

A lot, it turns out. The literature on health in general and religion is vast. An Oxford University Press book summarizing the research on the subject, for example, comes in at almost 900 pages. In the analysis in this “Handbook of Religion and Health,” they reviewed 326 articles on the relationship between health and measures of “religiosity and subjective well-being, happiness, or life satisfaction,” finding that 79% of those studies reported that religious people were happier, while only 1% reported that they were less happy (the rest found no or mixed findings).

Just because something is correlated, of course, doesn’t imply causation, so just because religion and happiness tend to go together does not mean that religion causes happiness. Yet this same Oxford book found a dozen studies that were randomized control trials — the gold standard of establishing cause and effect — where people were randomly assigned to different religious interventions, and in more than half of them, simply assigning people to various interventions encouraging them to be more religious led to measurable increases in happiness.

The finding of a relationship between happiness and religiosity is so established that many research papers take it as a given starting point. For example, a recent paper published in one of the most prestigious social science journals on whether religiosity makes it easier to deal with unemployment (it does, with some caveats) states that it is a “well-known research finding … that, in general, the religious are happier than the non-religious.”

So, how does anyone actually measure happiness? It’s actually quite easy. Just asking people how happy they are has been shown to be related to a wide variety of other measures of well-being, so researchers can easily include a single-question measure about happiness in a survey that is valid for research on the concept of happiness.

The happiness-faith relationship is strong enough that it shows up almost any way you slice the data or ask the question. Sometimes researchers will say “it’s complicated,” but it’s really not. With the exception of a few very particular contexts in those 1% of studies finding a negative relationship, whenever you run an analysis on this, the religious are almost always happier.

For instance, almost every year, a large survey with a wide variety of questions is disseminated among Americans called the General Social Survey. For many years now, this survey has asked the simple question:

Taken all together, how would you say things are these days — would you say that you are very happy, pretty happy or not too happy?

With available answers of “Very happy,” “Pretty happy” and “Not too happy.”

When you dig into the past three years of surveys — 2018, 2021, and 2022 — and look at how many people identify as happy by how often they go to church, the pattern is clear.

Specifically, almost 1 in 3 frequent religious service attenders say they are “very happy,” while among non-attenders it is about 1 in 5. Conversely, about 15% of frequent religious service attenders say they are “not too happy,” whereas for non-attenders it is 23%.

The fact that 15% of frequent attenders are still “not too happy,” of course, shows that there is a lot more influencing happiness in our lives than just religion, and that religiosity is not a panacea. Still, the overall pattern is unavoidable.

But why? It is true that we are social creatures, and that religion provides precious social connections and networks that are in short supply in the year 2024.

Many people point to this as one possible reason. No question it plays a role. However, more individual, less social aspects of faith, such as religious beliefs and prayer, also show positive influences on well-being. This evidence of benefits from believing in, and communicating with, a higher power that is watching over you, suggests that this security bleeds over into security and well-being in multiple domains of life.

Are religious people happier? The science is pretty clear

USF Libraries Hours by campus

Libraries locations.

  • Libraries Hours
  • Outages & Maintenance Alerts

RESEARCH TOOLS

  • Subject & Course Guides
  • USF Libraries Catalog
  • Quicksearch All-in-one-search
  • Citing Sources
  • Find my Librarian

GUIDES / HOW-TO

  • Tutorials & Workshops
  • Finding Books and Articles
  • Finding Reserves
  • Checking Out & Renewing
  • Reserve a Study Room
  • Additional Help Topics
  • star Other Services
  • For Faculty
  • For Graduate Students
  • For Undergrads
  • Requesting Books & Articles (ILL)
  • Textbook Affordability (TAP)
  • Library Instruction
  • Laptop Checkout
  • Schedule Research Help
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Data Management Planning
  • Copyright & Intellectual Property
  • Scholarly Publishing
  • Other Services

COLLECTIONS

  • What are Collections?
  • Special Collections
  • Digital Collections
  • Digital Heritage & Humanities
  • Digital Commons @ USF
  • Oral Histories
  • Online Exhibitions
  • Printing in the Library
  • IT Help Desk
  • Digital Media Commons (DMC)
  • Writing Studio
  • Office of Development
  • Office for Undergraduate Research
  • Directions to the Library
  • Library Info & Floor Maps
  • Connect From Off Campus
  • Renew Materials Online
  • Check UBorrow Status
  • Printing Help
  • Report a Problem
  • About the USF Libraries

Children's Literature Portraying Religious Diversity in the US

  • Christianity
  • Native American
  • Spirituality
  • Multiple Religions
  • About the Holocaust
  • Rubric & Bibliography

Introduction

As our nation continues to become more culturally diverse, it is imperative that teachers address the changing diversity in their classrooms. Many scholars have called for classroom teachers and teacher educators to embrace a culturally responsive pedagogy due to this influx of students from diverse backgrounds in the United States (Gay, 2002; Ladson-Billings, 1995; Phuntsog, 2001). 

Religion, a part of our multicultural landscape, is often avoided and considered uncomfortable or too controversial to teach.  

The books highlighted in this guide,  Children's Literature Portraying Religious Diversity, were specifically chosen as quality books that focus on authentic expressions of religious diversity for children grades K-4.  Their selection emerged from an empirical study designed to:

  • Develop a rubric for evaluation of multicultural literature that represents religious diversity and can be used in early childhood classrooms.
  • Explore and select multicultural literature that represents religious diversity and can be used in early childhood classrooms.

These books represent but a small sample of powerful pieces of children’s multicultural literature that we believe fosters understanding and respect and can be used as a vehicle for raising children’s awareness of religions and religious traditions in our world.  While some of the books focus on specific holidays, people or concepts others have a more broad cultural focus.

review of religious research

  • Last Updated: May 29, 2024 1:52 PM
  • URL: https://guides.lib.usf.edu/ChildrensLiteratureReligiousDiversity

Advertisement

Why Wirecutter Tests the Same Product for Years on End

Christina Colizza

By Christina Colizza

Christina Colizza is an editor covering sleep. She loves testing health products, like sports bras and foot spas, and hitting snooze on her alarm.

If you’re a Wirecutter devotee, you may have noticed that some of our picks have been the same for years. The Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug, for example, has been a pick in our guide to the best travel mugs since at least 2020. Its only real flaw: It keeps your drinks too hot for too long.

The Zojirushi mug has remained a pick all this time, however, only because we’ve spent years testing it against other travel mugs as well as putting it through at-home trials. (Think of picks as being like politicians up for reelection, only instead of undergoing reconsideration every few years, they do so constantly.)

We perform rigorous testing to make recommendations in the first place. Our long-term testing helps us decide whether a product remains worthy of our recommendation.

What is long-term testing?

After we test products for our guides, we do one of three things with them: Either we return them to the manufacturer or PR company, we donate or discard them (we’re not in this for swag ), or we ask our writers or other people on staff to evaluate them for long-term testing. As the name suggests, such testing allows us to live with a pick for an extended period of time to gain greater insights about how it lasts. We want to know if a pair of hiking boots will hold up over a lengthy trek, for instance, or whether a mattress will start to buckle in the second month.

“There is no substitute for the time spent living with something and using it as you go,” says senior editor Harry Sawyers. Wirecutter’s editorial team does its best to re-create sustained wear and tear via an accelerated testing process (such as throwing storage bins down the stairs ), but nothing can replace lived experience. Plus, not all product categories are best judged on durability alone. We wouldn’t throw a personal blender down the stairs, for example, but we might demote a blender pick if, say, its motor weakened and its blender cap started retaining water after just nine months of use.

Long-term test notes are nothing new at Wirecutter. Senior editor Erica Ogg, whose first job at Wirecutter in 2013 was to keep every guide accurate and up-to-date, notes that the site has been incorporating such observations for at least a decade. Back then, those extensive notes helped Wirecutter distinguish itself from other product-review sites, which might spend only a couple of days with a free test sample of a product before sending it back to the company. The same holds true today.

How long-term testing works

After we’ve written a guide and taken photos of the tested products, the writers of the guide may hold on to certain picks themselves for long-term testing. Other times we offer the picks to the larger editorial staff for long-term evaluation. (Supervising editor Marilyn Ong recommends this fun wheel tool for drawing names.)

The process looks a little something like this:

Screenshot of a message from a Wirecutter supervising editor announcing that a citrus juicer is up for grabs for long-term testing.

We log all tested products and their whereabouts. Over time, the long-term tester is expected to offer any feedback if issues arise and to keep notes on the item’s performance. Then, when editors update a guide, they incorporate those notes into the review.

If someone isn’t using their long-term testing item regularly, as in the case of a baby stroller once their little one has grown up, another staffer takes over the long-term testing, or we may donate the item to a local charity. This changing of hands through the years not only provides useful data on a pick’s performance over time but also brings unique perspectives to the guide.

What long-term testing reveals

Long-term testing can reveal flaws in a pick or underscore its quality. Take kids lunch boxes , for example. Senior editor Courtney Schley edited this guide years ago but remains a dedicated long-term tester. A mother of four, Courtney knows about school lunches (even if making them is her husband’s area of expertise). She has long-term tested three or four Bentgo lunch boxes ( plastic and stainless steel ), our pick for bento-style lunch boxes, and has noticed that they typically break after a year or two. Not bad, considering the abuse they go through. But the PlanetBox Rover Stainless Steel Lunch Box, our upgrade pick, is “indestructible,” says Courtney. It costs $60, but she estimates that it has survived at least 500 trips to and from school over several years, which means it’s a sounder investment than a Bentgo box.

A snapped hinge on a lunchbox is one thing, but long-term testing can also reveal more complex problems, such as software or firmware issues. For example, the Ultraloq U-Bolt Pro Wifi used to be the main pick in our guide to the best smart locks , but we changed it to also-great status after noticing battery drain and other quirks, such as the app’s failure to send a low-battery notification and a finicky fingerprint reader, that made it more of a specialty recommendation than a general pick for most people. The company communicated with us and acknowledged that the battery drain was a known but extremely rare issue. A firmware update released months later fixed the battery drain, and we’re still fans of the Ultraloq model’s features and general performance, so we continue to recommend it.

Sometimes though, long-term testing reveals a problem so critical, we can no longer recommend a pick. Senior staff writer Rachel Cericola, who covers smart-home technology, says that our smart-home picks usually fall out of favor because something newer or better comes along, rarely because they physically break. But that wasn’t the case with the Eufy Floodlight Cam S330, the floodlight pick in our guide to the best outdoor cameras guide . After nearly two years of periodic use, the camera suffered a water leak and broke. Rachel contacted Eufy customer service, who determined that the unit was defective but was ineligible for replacement since it was outside of its one-year warranty period. “An outdoor camera should be able to live outside for longer than 18 months,” says Rachel.

Where you can find long-term testing info in a guide

If you are a regular Wirecutter reader, you might have noticed that we adhere to a certain structure in our guides, with specific sections such as “Who this is for,” “How we picked and tested,” and “The competition.” (You can read more about the logic behind such sections in this look at the anatomy of a Wirecutter guide .) We incorporate the information from our long-term testing of a pick within our review of it. For instance, in our review of the Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy rice cooker , we have added a small section discussing how it has held up over the years (great, but a little difficult to wash by hand).

Whether we pull a pick or keep it in the same spot after performing new rounds of testing, we let readers know in an update box, which looks like this:

Screenshot of an update box about our picks from our guide to the best Nespresso machine.

You’ll find the real meat and potatoes of long-term testing in the pick sections, where it’s our job to clearly explain a product’s merits before you decide to spend your hard-earned money. Usually, we put long-term testing notes in a section titled “How the [name of the product] has held up” or in the form of a paragraph with a bolded lead-in, like this one about our air purifier pick, the Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty:

Screenshot of a long term testing note one about our Coway Airmega AP-1512HH Mighty air purifier pick.

When we say that a product has stood the test of time, we confidently do so because we have taken the time to evaluate it. On other occasions, long-term testing can help us learn about flaws in an item that a reader might want to know about—or it can teach us why something should no longer be a pick at all. And that’s why, even after we publish a guide, our work isn’t done.

This article was edited by Amber Angelle and Jason Chen.

Meet your guide

review of religious research

Christina Colizza

Christina Colizza is an editor covering all things sleep. She previously led Wirecutter’s research department and has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Week. She loves staying active on her bike or on the soccer field, reading and working on health-oriented journalism, and going to bed way too late.

Further reading

Products in boxes stacked on the shelves of a wire metal shelving unit.

Yes, I Work at Wirecutter. No, We Don’t Get a Bunch of Free Stuff.

by Christina Colizza

Maintaining our editorial independence means ultimately returning, donating, or discarding every product we get.

Eight cordless vacuums resting against a sofa during testing.

The Anatomy of a Wirecutter Guide

Wirecutter guides are organized in a particular, idiosyncratic way. Here’s why.

A person in a lab coat uses science lab tools.

For Product Reviews, Tests Aren’t Everything

by Liam McCabe

Lab tests are valuable, but they don’t tell you everything you need to know about a product.

A laptop screen showing an Amazon product page.

Why Some Wirecutter Picks Have Bad Amazon Reviews

by Janet Towle

It might be surprising to find negative customer reviews on stuff we recommend. Why does this happen? It’s complicated.

  • Open access
  • Published: 21 May 2024

Ethical perspectives regarding Euthanasia, including in the context of adult psychiatry: a qualitative interview study among healthcare workers in Belgium

  • Monica Verhofstadt 1 ,
  • Loïc Moureau 2 ,
  • Koen Pardon 1 &
  • Axel Liégeois 2 , 3  

BMC Medical Ethics volume  25 , Article number:  60 ( 2024 ) Cite this article

479 Accesses

1 Altmetric

Metrics details

Introduction

Previous research has explored euthanasia’s ethical dimensions, primarily focusing on general practice and, to a lesser extent, psychiatry, mainly from the viewpoints of physicians and nurses. However, a gap exists in understanding the comprehensive value-based perspectives of other professionals involved in both somatic and psychiatric euthanasia. This paper aims to analyze the interplay among legal, medical, and ethical factors to clarify how foundational values shape the ethical discourse surrounding euthanasia in both somatic and psychiatric contexts. It seeks to explore these dynamics among all healthcare professionals and volunteers in Belgium.

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 Dutch-speaking healthcare workers who had encountered patients requesting euthanasia for psychiatric conditions, in Belgium, from August 2019 to August 2020. Qualitative thematic analysis was applied to the interview transcripts.

Participants identified three pivotal values and virtues: religious values, professional values, and fundamental medical values encompassing autonomy, beneficence, and non-maleficence, linked to compassion, quality care, and justice. These values interwove across four tiers: the patient, the patient’s inner circle, the medical realm, and society at large. Irrespective of their euthanasia stance, participants generally displayed a blend of ethical values across these tiers. Their euthanasia perspective was primarily shaped by value interpretation, significance allocation to key components, and tier weighting. Explicit mention of varying ethical values, potentially indicating distinct stances in favor of or against euthanasia, was infrequent.

The study underscores ethical discourse’s central role in navigating euthanasia’s intricate landscape. Fostering inclusive dialogue, bridging diverse values, supports informed decision-making, nurturing justice, and empathy. Tailored end-of-life healthcare in psychiatry is essential, acknowledging all involved actors’ needs. The study calls for interdisciplinary research to comprehensively grasp euthanasia’s multifaceted dimensions, and guiding policy evolution. While contextualized in Belgium, the implications extend to the broader euthanasia discourse, suggesting avenues for further inquiry and cross-cultural exploration.

Peer Review reports

Medical assistance in dying is allowed in 27 jurisdictions in the world and if so, it is mainly restricted to the terminally ill (see BOX 1 in OSF) [ 1 ]. Medical assistance in dying entails that a patient’s death request can be granted via euthanasia , defined as the intentional termination of life by a physician at the patient’s explicit request, which is currently decriminalised in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, and New Zealand. In addition, it can be granted by means of assisted suicide , also defined as the intentional termination of life by a physician at the patient’s explicit request, but in these cases, the lethal drugs are provided by a physician and self-administered by the patient at a time of the latter’s own choosing (e.g., Australia, Austria, Switzerland, United States). In some countries, not only a physician, but also a nurse practitioner can be involved in the procedure (e.g., Canada, New Zealand).

Euthanasia has been legal in Belgium since 2002, positioning the country as a pioneer in this field with two decades of euthanasia practice [ 2 ]. According to Belgian legislation, individuals can be deemed eligible for euthanasia when they are, among other criteria, in a medically futile state characterized by constant and unbearable physical or psychological suffering resulting from a serious and incurable disorder caused by accident or illness [ 2 ]. Belgium is one of the few countries that does not exclude people from assisted dying who suffer predominantly from irremediable psychiatric conditions (see BOX 2 in OSF for all legal criteria in Belgium). As regards prevalence, euthanasia accounted for up to 3.1% of all registered deaths in 2023 in Belgium [ 3 ]. Whereas most registered euthanasia deaths concerned the terminally ill (approximately 84%), predominantly suffering from cancer, only 48 or 1.4% of euthanasia deaths concerned non-terminally ill adults predominantly suffering from psychiatric conditions. Since euthanasia was legalised, in total 457 such euthanasia cases have been reported, less than 1.5% of all registered euthanasia cases in Belgium [ 3 , 4 , 5 , 6 , 7 , 8 , 9 ].

However, this is only the tip of the iceberg, as there is reason to believe that the total number of requests for euthanasia in Belgium (regardless of outcome), is at least 10 times higher. For instance, recent annual reports from Vonkel, an end-of-life consultation centre in Belgium, revealed around 100 unique patients per year applying for euthanasia for psychiatric reasons. Less than 10% of those euthanasia requests were reported to be carried out [ 10 , 11 , 12 ]. Moreover, a recent survey among psychiatrists working in Flanders, Belgium, revealed that 8 out of 10 respondents had been confronted at least once throughout their career with patients requesting euthanasia for psychiatric reasons [ 13 ]. The survey also showed that, although three-quarters are supportive of not excluding the option of euthanasia for this specific patient group [ 14 ], the majority is hesitant to be actively engaged in a euthanasia procedure [ 13 , 14 ]. The literature ascribed the reluctance to the complexity of euthanasia assessment in this patient group, inherently high in professional and emotional demands [ 15 , 16 , 17 , 18 , 19 ]. The complexity was for a large part described in terms of the practical considerations surrounding euthanasia requests and assessment, e.g., whether and when these patients can meet the legal criteria.

There is thus reason to believe that healthcare workers’ overarching ethical considerations influence their attitudes on euthanasia in general and in the context of psychiatry specifically, and their practice. As empirical in-depth studies are lacking, this area is largely understudied. To date, only two recent qualitative studies among Dutch physicians emphasised the value-based reasons for euthanasia decision-making, but did not [ 20 ] or only summarily [ 21 ] scratch the specific context of psychiatry. Another recent qualitative study among Dutch physicians, including psychiatrists, emphasized the value-based reasons for supportive attitudes towards euthanasia, e.g. the value of self-determination, compassion, fairness, and suicide prevention, versus the value-based reasons for not supporting euthanasia, e.g. the mission of medicine of hope and healing [ 22 ]. Furthermore, a recent systematic review described the main ethical challenges surrounding the euthanasia practice in the context of psychiatry [ 23 ]. However, this ethical debate was mainly concentrated on the permissibility and implementation of euthanasia from a practical-clinical point of view, e.g. whether euthanasia in the context of psychiatry should be permitted, and why the legal requirements can (not) be adequately embedded in the field of psychiatric medicine. How practically and juridically relevant these considerations may be, they remain the outcome of ethical values being weighed up, which means that no single consideration can be considered ethically irrelevant, neutral, or value-free. Moreover, the review was based on articles that have been selected in a timeframe in which sound empirical data regarding euthanasia in the context of psychiatry were largely lacking.

Also, the overarching value-based views of other professionals involved in psychiatric euthanasia practice have not yet been studied. This is striking, as a recent Belgian survey study revealed that that half of the psychiatric nurses (53%) are frequently and directly confronted with such euthanasia requests [ 24 ], but in-depth insights into their value-based views are lacking. Furthermore, there are many more formal caregivers, other than psychiatric nurses, involved in euthanasia assessment procedures. End-of-life centres employ e.g., paramedical personnel such as psychologists, psychiatric nurses for intake and registration purposes, and well-trained volunteer personnel such as buddies, entrusted with the task to help these patients to cope with the euthanasia procedure. In addition, rehabilitation-oriented support groups (REAKIRO) were established to help these patients (and their relatives) in walking the tightrope of life and death [ 25 ]. All of these caregivers may also have an unacknowledged but influential role in these euthanasia assessment procedures, and therefore, an interesting perspective to reflect on euthanasia legislation and practice. Gaining insight into healthcare workers’ ethical considerations related to euthanasia in psychiatry will lay bare the ethical foundations underlying current practice and is important to inform and spark further debate around this extremely thorny issue, and to promote sound ethical analysis.

Hence, the purpose of this research is to explore healthcare workers’ ethical considerations regarding euthanasia in general and euthanasia concerning adults suffering predominantly from psychiatric conditions in particular.

Theoretical research framework

Our research was guided by the framework of ‘critical social constructionism’ [ 26 ], providing a nuanced perspective that diverges from the acknowledgment of an objective reality. This approach intricately examines the interplay of personal, social, and societal dimensions within the phenomena under study. It necessitates an acknowledgment of the layered complexities influencing our understanding of phenomena such as euthanasia, a notion supported by both our prior research [ 27 ] and additional studies [ 23 , 28 ].

Our interpretation of the data was informed by social constructionism, which recognizes the role of internalized societal norms in shaping individuals’ perceptions of reality over time. Furthermore, we embraced a contextualist epistemology [ 29 ], acknowledging the contextual influence on knowledge formation among both researchers and participants. This methodological approach aimed to capture diverse lived experiences (e.g., diversity in clinical and euthanasia trajectories) and perspectives, including varied attitudes toward euthanasia based on specific relationships (e.g., professional healthcare worker or volunteer). Consequently, we maintained a reflexive stance regarding the potential impact of our individual experiences and identities on our analyses and interpretations, as elaborated in the Ethical Considerations section.

Study design

The qualitative research design consisted of semi-structured face-to-face interviews with healthcare workers in Flanders and Brussels, Belgium.

Participants

All participants were Dutch-speaking and had at least one concrete experience with euthanasia requests and procedures concerning adults with psychiatric conditions in the period 2016–2020, either as professional or volunteer healthcare workers. We adopted a broad recruitment approach, with a particular focus on all healthcare providers directly involved in medical practice rather than in managerial or policy-making roles. No further exclusion criteria were employed.

Recruitment and interview procedure

Purposive sampling was used to ensure diversity and heterogeneity in terms of: participants’ affiliation with institutions holding different stances on ‘euthanasia and psychiatry’; being to a different extent confronted with these euthanasia procedures as regards the amount of experiences (sporadically versus regularly); the nature of the experiences (e.g. confronted with or engaged in euthanasia procedures that were still under review or that had been rejected, granted, performed or withdrawn); and their specific role as professional or volunteer healthcare worker.

Participants were recruited via assistance of our contact persons at: (1) the end-of-life consultation centre Vonkel; (2) the Brothers of Charity; (3) the rehabilitation-oriented centre REAKIRO in Louvain; and (4) the Review Belgian Euthanasia Law for psychological suffering (REBEL) group, a group of Belgian physicians (e.g. psychiatrists), therapists (e.g. psychologists) as well as academics who express their concern on euthanasia in the context of psychiatry via the media. Participants were also recruited via a notice on the sites, newsflashes and/or in the online newsletters of LEIF (Life End Information Forum), Recht op Waardig Sterven (the Flemish Right to Die with Dignity Society) and Vlaamse Vereniging voor Psychiatrie (Flemish Psychiatric Association).

Potential participants contacted MV or a study assistant by phone or mail. The patients were then given an information letter and informed consent form that consisted of 2 main parts. All interviews were conducted by MV or a study assistant, who both have experience in conducting interviews on end-of-life topics. Interviews were held at the participant’s location of choice, except for five interviews which were held online via video call by Whereby 14 due to the Covid-19 crisis lockdown regulations. Interviews lasted between 55 min and 2 h, and were audio recorded (the online video interviews were recorded by Whereby’s software and immediately transferred in an mp.3 format).

Measurements

The interview guide (see OSF) contained the following consecutive questions of importance to the present report: (1) What is your personal stance regarding euthanasia as a legalised medical end-of-life option? and (2) What is your personal stance regarding euthanasia in the context of psychiatry?

Data management and analysis

We used a model of sampling-based saturation, namely inductive thematic saturation, that relates to the emergence of new themes (defined as 7 consecutive interviews without new themes) [ 30 ]. We continued to recruit and conduct interviews so that the sample would be heterogenous in terms of socio-demographics, clinical profile, and clinical setting. In particular, our focus was on recruiting individuals with the following profiles: psychologists, male psychiatric nurses and moral consultants/spiritual caregivers employed in residential psychiatric settings ( n  = 5).

All interviews were then transcribed verbatim and de-identified by the interviewers.

We made use of hybrid inductive and deductive coding and theme development by means of a 2-staged process. Stage 1 consisted of an inductive data-driven thematic coding procedure.

We made use of these four phases; (1) identification and coding of all transcripts; (2) the placing of the codes in subthemes, i.e., arguments in favour versus critical concerns; (3) the placing of these subthemes in overarching main themes, i.e., different stakeholders (patient/medicine/society); (4) the comparison and discussion of the findings (with all co-authors). In addition to the inductive approach, we also used a deductive, theory-driven template approach during stage 2. We made use of these four phases; 1) the development of an ethical interpretation framework (see OSF). The framework consists of four key concepts, each involving a multitude of ethical concepts: (a) ethical theories and methodologies, (b) ethical values, (c) basic ethical virtues, and (d) dialogue/decision making ethics; 2) the identification of codes that fit the ethical framework and the theory-driven renaming of these codes; 3) the placing of some of the subthemes in an additional main theme; and 4) the comparison and discussion of the findings (with all co-authors).

Ethical considerations

The research team comprised two experienced clinical psychologists, one specializing in euthanasia within the cancer patient population and the other skilled in conducting interviews on this sensitive topic within the adult psychiatric context. Additionally, two ethicists with expertise in assisted dying, including euthanasia, were part of the team. Some authors also have backgrounds in psychiatric practice, including outpatient and residential settings, while others bring expertise through personal experiences. Furthermore, all contributing authors have personal and/or professional connections with individuals navigating death ideation, offering diverse perspectives on euthanasia. Additionally, some authors hold religious beliefs, while others maintain a more agnostic stance. These perspectives vary depending on the predominant viewpoints adopted—whether that of the patient, a close relation, a clinician, an ethicist, or policy stances. To mitigate potential undue influence on data interpretation, three team assemblies were convened. These sessions served to share firsthand encounters from interviews and their outcomes, fostering reflection and deliberation among team members. This proactive measure was implemented to prevent both personal and professional biases from affecting the interpretation of the data.

The main characteristics of the 30 participants are listed in Table  1 . The sample consisted of 16 physicians, 7 other care professionals (ranging from psychiatric nurses to mobile support teams), and 7 volunteers, all of whom were engaged in one or more euthanasia procedures predominantly based on psychiatric conditions.

The participating physicians held various roles regarding the handling of euthanasia requests:

1 physician refused to discuss the request with the patient on principle grounds.

7 physicians managed the clarification of euthanasia requests from their own patients or referred them to colleagues for further clarification.

10 physicians provided one of the two legally required formal advices or an additional advice on the euthanasia request.

5 physicians performed the act of euthanasia.

3 physicians held a more normative, dissuasive stance against euthanasia in the context of psychiatry but were willing to explore and discuss the euthanasia request with the patient.

The sample further included 14 non-physicians, among them members holding one or more roles:

2 members were part of mobile teams providing psychiatric care and support in the patient’s home setting.

3 were psychiatric nurses working either in a general hospital or in a psychiatric residential setting.

2 were Experts by Experience, individuals with a history of mental distress trained to provide support for individuals new to the euthanasia procedure and/or rehabilitation approaches.

3 were buddies, individuals entrusted with assisting and supporting the patient throughout the euthanasia procedure.

3 were moral consultants/spiritual caregiver, tasked with offering various forms of existential guidance and support to patients considering euthanasia, including religious, moral, and/or other perspectives.

5 were consultants at end-of-life information and/or consultation centers responsible for patient intake.

Participants’ ethical considerations regarding euthanasia, in the broadest context of medicine

As can be seen from the coding structure in Table  2 , we ordered coding categories on the level of 1) the individual patient, 2) the patient’s social inner circle, 3) the (para)medical field, and 4) the society. Note that words used verbatim by the interviewees (often interview fragments instead of quotes, as to better illuminate the complexities and nuances of interviewees’ first-hand lived experiences) from the transcribed interviews are incorporated that provide both additional insightful details and reveal the at times interwoven nature of the analysed codes.”

The level of the individual patient

On the level of the individual patient, the following five ethical considerations were distinguished: (1) autonomy, (2) dignity, (3) quality of life, (4) compassion, and (5) the meaning and transformative value of suffering.

First, Autonomy was a recurrent theme in all the interviews. Some participants expressly valued individual autonomy , and more specifically its following two underpinning characteristics: (1) self-determination in terms of the fundamental right for each individual to direct the course of one’s own life, which also includes ‘taking control over the timing and circumstances of one’s end-of-life’, and (2) freedom of choice , as they strongly believed that individuals are free to choose what meaning and purpose they assign to their lives. According to them, as each individual should be enabled ‘to live according to one’s own value system’, so should the ending of one’s life also be congruent with one’s own value system. Hence, in their opinion, euthanasia should remain ‘one of the many options to die’.

Other participants called this individualistic approach of autonomy ‘unrealistic’ or even ‘delusional’, as it shies away from: (1) the relational account of autonomy, in which a true autonomous decision was seen as the outcome of a decision-making process which is shaped by individual, social and contextual components, and (2) the internalised downside of autonomy, as the feeling underpinning many euthanasia requests, namely ‘not wanting to be a burden to others’ may lead to ‘self-sacrifice’ and ‘the duty to die’ under the false pretence of autonomy. In addition, some pointed to the power of susceptibility and subliminality, as human beings are subliminal creatures whose behaviour is continuously influenced on both a subconscious and even conscious level. Consequently, internalised pressure cannot be excluded when a patient requests euthanasia. One psychiatrist even stated that ‘ there exists no such thing as a free will, as human beings are always manipulated in many areas of human life and functioning’ .

“I believe that that there should still be places in society where you could die without considering euthanasia. While many people today are facing dementia, and you almost must…. Interviewer: Yes. “Yes, like how should I deal with it? Should I exit life before it becomes inevitable dementia or something similar? Because I think that in a neo-liberal society, many people internalize the idea that at some point, it becomes a moral duty to step aside. They feel obliged to eliminate themselves. Self-elimination. In a neo-liberal model, as long as you can keep up and contribute, everything is fine. But if you can’t keep up, well, if you cannot fully exercise autonomy, then… Essentially, you should hold your honour and step aside.” (spiritual caregiver)

Second, participants mentioned euthanasia as an option to die with dignity . For those in favour of the Law, euthanasia is considered (1) a ‘dignified way of dying’ when everything that leads up to death, including individual, medical, and social needs and expectations, is consistent with one’s own sense of integrity, belief-system and lifestyle, and (2) a ‘good death’, when referring to the literal meaning of the concept ‘euthanasia’, namely ‘a soft and gentle passing’. Other participants raised concerns on the reference to euthanasia and dignified dying in the same breath, as if “ other ways of dying are not or less dignified ”.

Third, the value of quality of life underpinned the arguments made in favour of the Law on Euthanasia, as (1) life itself should not be prolonged unnecessarily, (2) meaningless suffering should be prevented, and (3) a good life should pertain to all stages in life, from the very beginning until the very end, which is feasible if quality of dying circumstances can be guaranteed. As one buddy stated: “ Living a full and good life implies dying a good death ”. Other participants made use of this value underpinning their argument against euthanasia, based on (1) the “protect-worthiness” of life itself and (2) the suffering that must be considered an inherent feature of the human condition.

Fourth, and seamlessly fitting with the former value, divergent courses also emerged regarding the aspect of how to deal with suffering . Some participants were in favour of euthanasia out of compassion in terms of (1) bringing a kind of relief to the patient when providing her the prospect of an end to the suffering and (2) ending the suffering once it has become ‘useless and meaningless’ and ‘disclosing the limits of the carrying capacity of the self’. Some participants referred to the insufficient degree of quality of life in some patients and valued euthanasia as sort of ‘ compensation for a life gone wrong’.

Others considered the option of euthanasia as compromising patients’ ability to accept, bear and cope with suffering experiences by offering the opportunity ‘to quickly resign from it’.

Some participants referred to the dynamic features and hence, the potential enriching value of suffering. They believed that one can and must revolt against the perception of pointless suffering, as suffering may offer unique opportunities to achieve personal growth through the realisation of self-actualising tendencies amidst the suffering and though all kinds of hardship and adversity in life. Therefore, the real challenge is to support the sufferer to (re)gain the ability to transform the suffering by means of redefining, accepting, and making sense of it. One psychiatrist referred to the Myth of Sisyphus and stated:

A rock that must be pushed up the mountain, which is terrible, and then Sisyphus lets the rock fall back down, and he must start all over again. And what is the purpose of that suffering? Pushing the rock up? It’s absurd, really, but still. I find it so vital, human, uh, yes. That is something that inspires me enormously and often makes me, well, yes, vitality and suffering, suffering is inherent to being, of course, and one can suffer, of course, that is very serious suffering, terrible suffering. I know that. But well, accept suffering, right? I’m not glorifying suffering, no, I don’t belong to that category. Some Catholics do that; the suffering of Christ, we must… No, not at all. Suffering is inherent to life. Interviewer: It’s just more bearable for some than for others. Interviewee: Then it’s our task to make it more bearable. Yes. (…) Look, that sets a dynamic in motion. By dynamic, I also mean movement. A euthanasia request is often rigid. I am for movement. That’s what Eastern philosophy teaches us too, that everything moves, and we must keep that movement and that the question may change or that people may also discover things. Or indeed, a suffering that is even more exposed, but on which one can then work. There is still much to do, yes, before the ultimate and final act of euthanasia, by a doctor for all sakes, should be considered. (psychiatrist)

The level of the patient’s inner circle

On the level of the social inner circle, the following three ethical considerations were distinguished: (1) involvement, (2) connectedness, and (3) attentiveness.

Some participants stressed that euthanasia can only be a soft and thus ‘good’ way of dying, if the patient’s social inner circle can be involved in the euthanasia procedure and if sufficient support to them can be provided. All participants in favour of the legal framework on euthanasia echoed the importance of the social circle being involved in an early stage of the euthanasia procedure, as the prospect of the end of life may challenge a patient’s ability of staying and feeling connected . If the euthanasia request is to be carried out, it offers a unique opportunity for both the patient and her social inner circle of consciously being present and sharing goodbyes. Other participants considered this reasoning as potentially deceiving, as concern was raised regarding the trap of false assumptions, in terms of words being left unspoken and the bottling up of one’s own needs for the sake of the other.

As the third doctor, I was asked to provide advice about someone, and the [adult child] was present, a charming [adult child]. The [adult child] was also very friendly but didn’t say much. The man explained why he himself wanted euthanasia and so on. To be honest, at first, I thought, “Well, this won’t take long,” because there were many arguments and reports I had received, but as the conversation went on, I started to feel something different. It turned into a very long conversation, during which the [adult child] also had their say. In short, the father believed that he couldn’t burden his children. He was a kind man who knew what he wanted, and his children were inclined to follow his idea, to follow his vision. However, the children thought, “Yes, we are actually going to agree with our father, and we’ll allow it,” but deep down, they still wanted to take good care of him. The father didn’t want them to take care of him, and there were many other things, but after that long conversation with the [adult child] and the father, and everything else, like, “We’ll still celebrate Christmas together,” there was a complete turnaround. The other physicians involved accepted this very well, and they said, “Okay, for us, it wasn’t clear. (physician)

In addition, concern was raised regarding the inner circle’s respect of individual patient autonomy and freedom of choice outweighing their r esponsibility and accountabilit y to take care for one another and to act according to all these subjects’ best interest.

Consequently, divergent discourses on the virtue of attentiveness emerged. Whereas for some, the euthanasia procedure may offer a unique opportunity for both the patient and her relatives to be better prepared for death and for the bereaved to better cope with grief, others pointed to the inner circle’s continued grappling with unresolved feelings and perceived helplessness after such a fast-track to death.

Yes, and sometimes I also see people, family members after such euthanasia, yeah, I’ve experienced it several times. They say things like, “Yes, I supported it, but I didn’t know it would affect me like this,” you know? They try to convince themselves, saying, “It was good, it was good, and I stand behind it.” Yeah, you are hardly allowed to do otherwise, but you feel that inner struggle in them, you know? Like, “Was it really okay?” But you can’t question it because you think, “Poor them,” but you still feel it, like, “How sad, how sad. (psychiatrist)

The level of medicine

The following five ethical considerations were distinguished: (1) professional duties, (2) responsibility to alleviate suffering, (3) subsidiarity, (4) professional integrity, and (5) monologic versus dialogic approaches.

First and as regards professional duties, it was (only) reported by some physicians that the physician’s duty is “ to provide good care, which includes good end-of-life care ”. Hence, physicians are the ones who should have euthanasia “as a tool in their end-of-life toolbox”. Others held a different stance and referred to Hippocrates’ Oath when stating that the physician’s duty is to save life at all costs.

Second, all the participants agreed that clinicians have the responsibility to alleviate the patient’s suffering . Whereas some welcomed the option of euthanasia due to the experienced limits of palliative care, that in some cases is deemed an insufficient response to intractable suffering, others stated that euthanasia is not needed as physicians have proper palliative care in their toolbox to alleviate all kinds and degrees of suffering.

Third and as regards the subsidiarity principle , opinions differed on the use of a palliative filter, i.e., whether a consultation with specialist palliative care units should precede euthanasia.

Fourth and as regards professional integrity , some participants relativized the physicians’ executive autonomy. As one psychiatrist stated “because in the end, we do not decide whether someone might die or not. We only decide whether we want to be of help and assist in it.” All the ones in favour of the current legal framework echoed that as physicians are the ones that have better access to the lethal drugs and the technical expertise to end the patient’s life in more efficacious ways than non-physicians, they should remain entrusted with euthanasia assessment procedures. Others (only physicians) criticized the Belgian legislator for placing too much power in the physicians’ hands so that the latter “ can play for God instead of using their pharmacological and technical know-how to save lives ”.

Fifth, and as regards the decision-making process, most participants valued the ethical principle of shared decision-making between the patient and her physicians, and some even preferred a triadic dialogue in which the patient, her relevant health carers and her social inner circle is involved in euthanasia assessment procedures. For most of them, this type of extended or relational autonomy is considered as best clinical euthanasia practice, especially when death is not foreseeable. According to some non-physicians, a strict dyadic patient-physician approach is to be preferred when death is reasonably foreseeable in a patient with sufficient mental competence. In this event, no intermediary should be tolerated as the medical secret is considered ‘sacred’. One participant elaborated further on this strict dyadic approach and said:

“ But actually, in my opinion, the request for euthanasia is something between two people. So…. Interviewer: The singular dialogue? “So, a relationship between the patient and the doctor, yes. That’s what I think. And I do understand that the legislation exists, primarily to protect the doctor against misuse or accusations, because euthanasia used to happen before too, but in secret. But for me as a doctor, it would be enough if a patient whom I’ve known for years, followed for years, maybe 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, and who is terminally ill, asks me in private, ‘I want it.’ For me, it doesn’t need to be more than that for me to say, ‘yes.’ So, there’s no need for a whole set of legislation, except of course to protect myself, maybe from the heirs who might have a different idea about it, yes, but I find it beautiful. And they say, you know, our legislation is such that you can write your euthanasia request on the back of a beer coaster and that’s enough, you know? But how it used to be, euthanasia happened just as well, that’s what I heard from my older colleagues. But it was done in private. Actually, that is the most beautiful sign of trust between a doctor and a patient. ” (Physician and consultant)

Others, all physicians without a favourable stance on euthanasia, considered medical paternalism morally justified in the end-of-life context, as (1) physicians have more intimate knowledge of the patient and are thus best placed to act in the patient’s best interests, (2) only the independent evaluation from well-trained and experienced physicians may rule out external or internalized pressure from the patient’s social inner circle, and (3) some patients may show impaired decision-making capacity when confronted with the end of life.

The level of society

As regards the origins and impact of euthanasia legislation on the level of society, the following four ethical themes emerged: (1) protection, (2) dignified dying, (3) solidarity, and (4) distributive justice.

First and as regards protection , some participants valued the existence of a legal framework for an ‘underground’ practice before 2002. According to them, this framework was highly needed to protect the patient against malicious practices and the physician against being charged for murder when ensuring herself that all the legal requirements are met.

So, I believe that it should be well-regulated in a state. In a country, it should be well-regulated. You can either be in favour of it, have reservations, or question it, but when it happens and many people want it or think it’s okay, then it should be regulated. And those, like me, who may be against it, have doubts about it, or wonder, “Is this really necessary?” I would say, or “Does it align with our purpose?” the existential comments that you can make about it, we must accept it because it would be terrible if it, well, it would be even worse if it happened in the underground, like before those laws were established, that’s, yeah. So, I think the laws should exist. Whether I would have made those laws is a different question, or whether I would vote for the parties in parliament that, you know, that support it, that’s another question, but apparently, here in North-western Europe, the need for those practices exists, and it should be regulated properly. And yes, it shouldn’t be left to amateurs or something like that, that’s not the intention. Yes, well, it serves to protect, both in terms of health and to ensure that it doesn’t become a business, of course. I’d prefer it to be integrated into the healthcare system rather than turning it into a profit-driven and exploitative affair for some others. So, that’s…. (psychiatric nurse)

Critical concerns were raised on the lack of protection of the most vulnerable people, i.e., the mentally ill and the elderly. Some of them referred to the amended Law in 2014, that also allowed minors to die by means of euthanasia – be it under more strict circumstances, inter alia, when based on unbearable physical suffering resulting from a medically terminal condition – and feared that the Law will be amended again, so it would no longer exclude the people suffering from dementia or for groups without serious incurable illness, e.g., the elderly with a perceived ‘completed life’.

Second, a major societal shift in thoughts regarding what constitutes dignified dying was reported. For some, the Law on Euthanasia reflects a nascent movement of death revivalism, in terms of people reclaiming control over their dying process. In this respect, euthanasia is deemed a counterreaction to the former dominant paternalistic attitude in Western society to systematically marginalise conversations on death and dying, e.g., due to the mechanisms of denial, avoidance, and postponement, and with the line between life and death increasingly held in physician’s hands, which has left many people ill-equipped to deal with dying and death. The current broad public support for euthanasia is seen as the individual patient taking back the decision-making process of dying and death in her own hands. They further considered euthanasia as a logical consequence of living an artificially prolonged life due to e.g., advances in medicine, that have not necessarily enhanced the quality of life.

“ One thing I also consider is that a part of our lives is artificially prolonged, you know. We don’t live longer because we are healthier, but because we have good pills or better surgical procedures, so we can afford to buy our health. So that part of life is still valuable to me, it’s not less valuable, but it’s artificially extended. So, I think we should keep that in mind, that we can prolong something artificially and maybe even go beyond a point where it no longer works. Interviewer: Beyond the expiration date? That’s what I was looking for (laughs). So, in that sense, I believe we should keep in mind that we can artificially extend something and then maybe, even if it’s just that artificial part, stop or be allowed to stop when the person no longer wants to, I think that makes perfect sense. ” (psychiatrist)

Others provided arguments against the increased death revivalism, referring to euthanasia as a ‘fast-track to death’ resulting in ‘the trivialisation of death’ in the face of formerly known and experienced Art of Dying. For instance, the current societal tendency to avoid suffering and the fear of dying may lead to patients (too quickly) resigning from a slow track to death, in which there is time to e.g., hold a wake.

But I won’t just grab a syringe, fill it up, and administer a lethal injection, you know? I follow the symptoms. And if they become uncomfortable, then I’ll increase the dosage so they can rest peacefully and not have to suffer. That’s what I call a dignified death. And if the family can be present, sometimes it takes a while for them to arrive, and they’ll say, “Come on, even a dog is not allowed to suffer that long.” Meanwhile, the person is just lying peacefully. But that too. Everything should, even that, should progress, and there isn’t much time left for vigil and, yes, I don’t want to romanticize it, but sometimes you see so much happening between families. There’re all kinds of things happening in those rooms, with the family, reconciliations being made. Memories being shared. “Oh, I didn’t know that about our father.“, an aunt walking in and telling a story. Well, so much still happens. I don’t want to romanticize it, but to say that all that time is useless, that’s not true either. And at the farewell, there’s always, the time, you think there’s time for it, but people are still taken aback when an infusion is given, that it can happen within a minute, even if they’re behind it and have been informed beforehand. Just a minute… and it’s done. The banality of death, it’s almost like that. (psychiatrist)

These and other participants also criticised ‘the romanticised image of euthanasia’, that masks the economics of the death system, taking financial advantage of ‘patients not wanting to be a burden to society’.

Third and consequently, divergent discourses on the value of solidarity emerged. For some, decades of civic engagement pointed to the need of death revivalism and patient empowerment, that resulted in the current legal framework. Others strongly criticised the lack of solidarity underpinning the legal framework on the following three counts: 1) the emphasis on patient autonomy is deemed a ’societal negligence in disguise’, as citizens are no longer urged to take care of others, 2) equating autonomy and dignity in euthanasia debates leads to the trap of viewing the ill or the elderly as having ‘undignified’ lives, and 3) wealth over health has become the credo of the current neoliberal society, as the Law on Euthanasia discourages further investments in health care but settles on the ‘commodification’ of health care.

“ I believe that we should take care of each other and especially care for the most vulnerable in our society. We shouldn’t just leave them to fend for themselves. I don’t think the motto should be all about autonomy, autonomy, and then the flip side, saying, “figure it out on your own.” That’s not acceptable. We have a responsibility to take care of each other. We are meant to care for one another. In biblical terms, we are each other’s keeper, right? “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. I must take care of each other, take care of others. So, I think in the long term, speaking maybe 100 years from now, people might say, “Sorry, that was a real mistake in the way they approached things.” I don’t know, but that’s looking at it from a meta-level, as historians call it, “longue durée,” and combining it with a neoliberal model, right? Neoliberalism and euthanasia thinking, it would be interesting to do a doctoral thesis on how they fit together perfectly. How they fit together perfectly… They are no longer patients, they are no longer clients, and I also don’t like the word ‘clients.’ They have become ‘users’. Sorry, but that’s our Dutch translation of the English word ‘consumers’ right? It’s like buying Dash detergent or a car; you buy care, just like the Personal Budget for people with disabilities. You buy your care, sorry, this goes against the very essence of what care fundamentally is. Care is a relationship between people; it’s not something you buy. It’s not something you say, “It’s a contract, and I want that.” It doesn’t work like that. [raising voice] The burden is on society. [end of raising voice] And when the money runs out, you have nothing left. If you can’t buy it, then it doesn’t come. “Here’s your little package,” that’s how it’s translated, and it’s always a hidden cost-cutting operation, let’s be very honest about it, a nice story, but it’s always a hidden cost-saving measure. I see right through that story, but well, big stories are always told, and they are always about saving money. [raising voice] It doesn’t bring anything, right? [end of raising voice] People’s self-reliance, they must stay at home, etc. How many people would benefit from going to a care centre, not at the end of their lives, but just because they feel totally lonely at home, but they can’t get in because nobody wants them there, as they don’t bring any profit. ” (spiritual caregiver)

Fourth, critical concerns were expressed concerning the lack of (distributive) justice due to the many existing misperceptions and misconceptions regarding medical end-of-life options that need to be uncovered. For instance, many people would be unaware of euthanasia and palliative sedation can both be dignified ways of dying, with euthanasia functioning as a fast-track and palliative sedation functioning as slow track to death. Also, the evolution of death literacy was contested: there was a sense that patients did not become more death literate, as many of them have insufficient knowledge of the content of the many end-of-life documents in circulation.

Yeah, I mean, you see, and I hear many people saying, “My papers are in order.” I won’t say every day, but I hear it almost every day, “My papers are in order.” That’s also something. It’s an illusion of control, right? Because what papers are they talking about? “My papers are in order.” When you ask them about it, they themselves don’t really know what that means, some kind of ‘living will’, ‘an advance care plan’, but yeah, with all… A living will or advance care plan is not that simple either, and then they think, “Oh, if I get dementia and I don’t recognize anyone anymore, they will give me an injection.” Ah yes, but then we are in a different domain, and that’s a whole other… But yeah, people are not well-informed, I find. They have totally wrong ideas and sometimes fear the wrong things, don’t know what is possible and what is not, and they also let themselves believe all kinds of things. Well, there are many misconceptions out there. (psychiatrist)

Participants’ ethical considerations regarding the additional procedural criteria for people with a non-terminal illness

As can be seen from the coding structure in Table  3 , participants made use of the principle justice to motivate their stance on additional (procedural) criteria that people with a non-terminal illness must meet before euthanasia can be carried out, in comparison with people with terminal illness. Those in favour of the additional procedural criteria referred to the differences between the terminally ill and the non-terminally ill regarding the aspect of content (i.e., the difference between general life expectancy and healthy life expectancy) and the aspect of time (i.e., the probability verging on certainty concerning the terminally ill versus the rough estimation concerning the non-terminally ill). Some of them also referred to the legal proceedings and stated that the Law was meant only for people with terminal illnesses to die by means of euthanasia. Others were of the opinion that it concerns only an arbitrary difference due to 1) the vagueness of the concept ‘naturally foreseeable’, i.e., suffering from a terminal illness, and the subjectivity of the calculated course and prognosis of e.g., degenerative somatic illnesses and dementia. A few participants said that this is beside the question, as one’s individual carrying capacity trumps the course and prognosis of an illness.

Participants’ ethical considerations regarding adults with psychiatric conditions

As can be seen from the coding structure in Table  4 , when asked about participants’ stances on euthanasia in the context of psychiatry, we distinguished value-based themes at the level of (1) the patient, (2) the field of psychiatry, and (3) society in general.

The level of the patient

Justice was the main value-based principle that emerged at the level of the patient. Participants in favour of not legally amending additional procedural criteria in the context of psychiatry stated that every patient with a non-terminal illness should receive equal end-of-life care options. The main counterargument given concerned the differences in patient profile, as some questioned whether the mentally ill can meet the legal criteria or stated that extreme caution is needed and thus additional criteria are in place due to the factor of e.g., ambiguity, impulsivity, and manipulation in the mentally ill.

“I find, the way the procedure is conducted for psychiatric suffering, I find it only natural that they handle it more cautiously because it’s indeed less… It’s not so easy to determine everything, is there really no other option left? And then I understand somewhere that time must be taken to investigate all of that. Because some of these people can be very impulsive, and that impulsivity needs to be addressed somewhere, of course. You also have people who can use their setbacks in the sense of, ‘I’ve been through all that, so I deserve euthanasia.’ And those are the people you need to single out because that’s just… I think those are also people who, with the necessary guidance, can still get out of it. Do you understand? It’s a form of self-pity, in a way. I think there might be resilience there, but they haven’t tapped into it themselves yet; it’s a kind of deflection or something. People with a history of, who say ‘I’ve experienced this and that, so I don’t need it anymore, just give me euthanasia, I deserve that. I’ve been through all that.’ While maybe, if they see, that’s still worth something to me, who knows, maybe that can still happen. They’re people who give up a little too quickly.” (Moral consultant)

Regarding the field of medicine, the following four value-based considerations emerged: (1) justice, (2) responsiveness to suffering, (3) protection, and (4) proportionality.

First, and as regards the principle of justice , participants in favour of equal procedural criteria for all non-terminally ill pointed to the indissociable unity of soma and psyche. A few physicians went one step further and reported that some psychiatric conditions can be considered terminal, e.g., suicidality, or predominantly of somatic nature, e.g., anorexia. The main counterarguments in this respect were (1) the firm belief in the inexistence of irremediableness in psychiatry (only mentioned by some physicians) or (2) that more caution is needed due to the higher level of subjectivity in terms of diagnostics, prognosis, and outcome.

Second, arguments against the distinction between the somatically versus the mentally ill were based on the attitude of responsiveness to the extreme extent and duration of mental suffering that can also render the mentally ill in a medically futile situation and the field of psychiatry empty-handed.

And many of the psychiatric patients I see suffer more than the average ALS patient who has to endure it for three years. In my experience, we’re less advanced in psychiatry compared to most other medical fields. You can easily say “we don’t know” in other areas of medicine and people will understand, but when it comes to psychiatric conditions, it’s different. Doctors might admit “it’s not working” or “there’s no trust,” and they might refer patients elsewhere or even refuse further appointments. I’ve even told a judge during a forced admission, “There’s simply no treatment available.” Yes, sometimes it’s just over and society must accept that there’s no solution. I’m not saying euthanasia is the solution for everyone, but I think it can be an option for some people. (Psychiatrist)

Other participants were not blind to the deep suffering, but strongly believed in the ground principle and core strength of psychiatry, namely the beneficial effect of hope. In addition, they pointed to the differences in the nature and course of somatic versus psychiatric illnesses when stating that considerably more time is needed in psychiatry, with inclusion of the therapeutic effect of hope to become effective.

“And I also believe that collectively, within psychiatry, we can and must provide additional support to endure profound despair. So, even in the face of seemingly endless hopelessness, we must maintain hope, look towards the future with trust, and continuously offer encouragement to those who feel hopeless. Our unwavering optimism and support convey the message that together, we can overcome. Because individuals who suffer from severe mental illness are treatable, I consider myself to be a genuinely optimistic psychiatrist. I have witnessed individuals who have harbored feelings of hopelessness and despair for extended periods, sometimes even decades, undergo profound transformations and experience significant improvement, and in some cases, complete recovery.” (Psychiatrist)

Third, participants in favour of the current legal framework reported that allowing euthanasia for the mentally ill was needed in the light of protection , as it might protect the patient against brutal suicides and also against therapeutic tenacity that more often occurs in psychiatry. Other participants in favour of, as well as participants against the current framework held a different stance on the following two counts: (1) allowing euthanasia conflicts with the aim of psychiatry to prevent suicide at all costs, and (2) the mentally ill are insufficiently protected by the Law as there are insufficient built-in safeguards against therapeutic negligence.

But usually with a psychiatric condition, death isn’t imminent. That’s the tricky part, you know? How many suicides do we have here? But anyway, I have an issue with that, using euthanasia as a kind of antidote against, well, against suicide, that’s a completely different matter. But death and psychiatry, why do we have all those government programs against suicide then? Isn’t that dying as a result of a psychiatric condition? (Psychiatrist, supportive of maintaining euthanasia option in psychiatric settings)

Fourth and as regards proportionality , a few participants with a normative stance against euthanasia in the context of psychiatry argued that psychiatric patients may not be allowed to die by means of euthanasia for as long as the field of psychiatry is under-resourced. They pointed to e.g., the lack of sufficient crisis shelters with a 24/7 availability and the lack of palliative approaches in the field of psychiatry. Instead of allowing euthanasia, they argue ‘to jolt the Belgian government’s conscience on mental health policies’. As a revolution to defeat the built-up inequalities in the field of medicine and knowing that palliative and rehabilitation initiatives in psychiatry require time.

“I oppose euthanasia in psychiatry. Compared to somatic medicine, psychiatry lags behind by 50 years. While physical pain can be managed with medication, there’s insufficient research on treatments for psychological suffering. Promising options like psilocybin and ketamine show potential in easing existential mental struggles. Magnetic stimulation can also alleviate depression, yet access remains limited. Unfortunately, these treatments are underused and under-researched. Many patients aren’t informed about these alternatives to euthanasia. It’s frustrating to see reluctance in exploring these options, especially when they offer hope to long-suffering patients. Utilizing these methods in psychiatric settings carries no risk of addiction. However, current restrictions impede access to these treatments, depriving patients of viable alternatives.” (Shortened excerpt from an interview with a psychiatrist)

When taking a societal perspective, no new arguments emerged from the respondents strongly in favour of the current euthanasia legislation, other than the main value of justice described in the subsection above. According to some, the current Law on Euthanasia busts some myths on the malleability of life and medical omnipotence, and even on psychiatric illnesses as a ‘Western phenomenon’, with e.g., depression and suicidality as a consequence of material wealth instead of a neurologic issue in the brain (only reported by some non-physicians).

There are quite a few people who consider the whole issue of the unbearable nature of psychological suffering a luxury problem, you know? They say something like, “Yeah, where are the suicide rates, to put it in equivalent terms, the lowest in the world? In Africa, because they obviously don’t have the luxury to concern themselves with that. They are already happy if they have a potato on their plate every day.” This is a viewpoint held by many, right? They call it a luxury problem, a modern, typical Western luxury problem. And perhaps there is some truth to it, right? But there are other causes of mortality there, which are much higher, such as child mortality, for example. (non-physician)

Counterarguments were also given and pointed to the value of (distributive) Justice. First, euthanasia was considered as ‘a logical but perverse consequence of systemic societal inequities’ on the one hand and the ‘further evolution towards the commodification or commercialisation of health care in individualised Western societies’ on the other. This would then lead to another vicious circle, with a rapidly growing ‘perception of vulnerable patient groups as irremediable’ and hence less likely to receive potentially beneficial treatment or other interventions. Some took a more radical stance against euthanasia in psychiatry, as they were convinced that euthanasia is nothing but ‘a perverse means to cover societal failures’. In addition, some participants with permissive stances on euthanasia in the context of psychiatry pointed to gender disparities in euthanasia requestors. This was based on the evidence that in the context of psychiatry, many more females request and die by means of euthanasia than males, and proportionally more female patient suffering from psychiatric disorders request and die by means of euthanasia compared to their fellow peers suffering from life-limiting or predominantly somatic conditions.

Finally, some respondents said that they could understand and, in some cases, even support euthanasia in some individual cases, but felt uncomfortable with its impact on the societal level. They pointed to the vicious circle of stigma and self-stigma that may impede the mentally ill to fully participate in societal encounters. In the long run, this type of societal disability may lead to vulnerable patients no longer wanting to perceive themselves a burden to society or to remain ‘socially dead’.

While considering their ethical perspectives towards euthanasia, participants weigh up various values related to and intertwining with the following levels: (1) the patient, (2) the patient’s inner circle, (3) the field of medicine, and (4) society in general. Overall, the participants shared an amalgam of ethical values on each of these four levels, regardless of their stance on euthanasia. It was mainly the interpretation of some values, the emphasis they placed on the key components underpinning each value and the importance they attach to each of the four levels, that determined their stance towards euthanasia. It was uncommon for different ethical values to be explicitly mentioned, which could distinguish distinct stances for or against euthanasia.

As regards euthanasia in the context of psychiatry, the focus has primarily been on arguments for and against euthanasia [ 23 ]. However, our study takes a more comprehensive approach, exploring the issue from a wider range of perspectives. This approach allowed us to uncover more complex insights that may have been overlooked if we had only considered it as a black-and-white issue.

Both the systematic review of Nicolini et al. [ 23 ] and our study emphasized fundamental ethical domains such as autonomy, professional duties, and the broader implications of euthanasia on mental healthcare. While our findings aligned with those of the systematic review, our inquiry delved deeper into psychiatry-specific considerations, including the influence of sudden impulses and feelings of hopelessness. This underscores the importance of healthcare professionals carefully assessing the timing and contextual aspects of such decisions within psychiatric contexts, ensuring individuals receive timely and tailored support and interventions.

Furthermore, our study extended beyond the boundaries of medical discourse, addressing broader societal ramifications. Participants engaged in discussions about ‘social death,’ a phenomenon that describes the marginalization of individuals despite their physical existence. This discussion highlighted entrenched structural inequities and societal attitudes perpetuating social alienation, particularly affecting marginalized demographics, including individuals grappling with mental health issues. Advocating for societal inclusivity and supportive measures, our study strongly emphasized the need to foster a sense of unity and respect for everyone’s worth, regardless of their circumstances.

Interpretation of the main findings

We make explicit and discuss the values corresponding to the four classical principles of biomedical ethics, in particular beneficence, non-maleficence, respect for autonomy and justice [ 31 ]. We place these values in the context of different ethical approaches, such as religious, professional, emancipatory, social, societal, and virtue-oriented approaches (see the ethical interpretation framework in OSF).

In the discussion section, therefore, the following main values and virtues are addressed: (1) the values of beneficence and non-maleficence in a religious perspective, (2) those same values in the professional context, (3) the value of autonomy in the contemporary emancipation paradigm, (4) the virtue of compassion stemming from virtue ethics theory, (5) the value of quality care in a social approach, and (6) the value of justice in societal policy contexts.

Beneficence and non-maleficence: religious perspective

In the realm of euthanasia debates, the interplay of religious beliefs and the values of ‘beneficence’ (the act of doing good) and ‘non-maleficence’ (do no harm) has emerged as a pivotal point of contention, often giving rise to divergent perspectives on this complex ethical issue [ 32 , 33 ]. Some religious traditions staunchly oppose medical end-of-life decisions, including euthanasia and abortion, viewing them as morally wrong and as disruptive to the natural order of life and death. The principle of ‘sanctity of life’ forms the bedrock of their belief system, underscoring the significance they attach to preserving life at all costs, as an embodiment of beneficence [ 34 , 35 ]. Conversely, those who argue for the ethical consideration of euthanasia emphasize the concept of beneficence in alleviating suffering and granting autonomy to individuals in their final moments. However, intriguingly, our examination of the topic has revealed a nuanced relationship between religious beliefs and attitudes toward euthanasia. While some individuals in our sample expressed strong religious convictions ( n  = 5) and even considered themselves as practicing Catholics, they did not necessarily adopt a firm normative stance against euthanasia, signifying a complex balancing of beneficence and possible maleficence within their belief system. Conversely, certain participants who held steadfastly against euthanasia ( n  = 3) did not identify with any religious belief system, yet their position was firmly grounded in their perception of potential maleficence associated with medical intervention in life and death decisions. This observation aligns with recent studies highlighting the intricate and multifaceted nature of religiosity, where individuals within various religious frameworks may hold diverse beliefs and values surrounding beneficence and non-maleficence [ 36 , 37 ]. Moreover, it underscores the powerful influence of societal culture on shaping personal perspectives on euthanasia, and how these views are entwined with the values of beneficence and non-maleficence [ 36 , 37 ].

Beneficence and non-maleficence: professional values

Second, a profound division arises between proponents and opponents, particularly in the field of medicine, where interpretations of the Oath of Hippocrates play a central role. At its core, the Oath emphasizes the deontological values of beneficence and non-maleficence, as physicians are bound by a prohibition against administering a deadly drug to ‘anyone,’ even at their explicit request, highlighting the reverence for the sanctity of life inherent in medical practice. This interpretation has led some to perceive active euthanasia as contrary to these sacred principles of preserving life. The notion of beneficence, understood as promoting the well-being of patients, appears to be in tension with the act of intentionally ending a life. Critics argue that euthanasia undermines the fundamental duty of physicians to protect and preserve life. Additionally, the principle of ‘non-maleficence,’ which entails not harming the patient or their life, is seen by some as being in accordance with the ‘sanctity of life’. However, the Oath also recognizes the significance of alleviating relentless suffering, opening the door to a nuanced debate on how these timeless principles align with the modern concept of euthanasia. As the discourse unfolds, perspectives emerge, with some viewing euthanasia as a compassionate form of care, that respects the autonomy and dignity of patients facing terminal illness or unbearable suffering. Advocates argue that euthanasia can be an act of beneficence, providing relief from pain and allowing individuals to die with dignity and control over their own fate. On the other hand, opponents of euthanasia steadfastly uphold the sanctity of life principle, viewing it as an ethical imperative that must not be compromised. They argue that intentionally ending a life, even in the context of relieving suffering, undermines the fundamental values of medical ethics and the intrinsic worth of every human life. For these individuals, euthanasia represents a profound ethical dilemma that conflicts with the near sanctity of medical ethics and the value of preserving life [ 38 , 39 , 40 ].

Autonomy: contemporary emancipation paradigm

The principle of autonomy emerges as one of the most prominent and contentious values in our contemporary emancipation paradigm. Autonomy, grounded in the belief in individual self-governance, is often cited as a foundational ethical principle in euthanasia legislation, emphasizing the significance of an individual’s capacity to make choices aligned with their own personal values and desires [ 31 ]. However, the discussion on autonomy extends beyond pure individualism, with considerations for relational autonomy, recognizing that individuals are not isolated entities but are shaped by their relationships, communities, and broader societal structures [ 41 ]. Within the context of euthanasia, the complexities of autonomy become evident as participants in the debate strived to find a delicate balance. On one hand, they stress the importance of respecting a patient’s individual autonomy in end-of-life decisions, ensuring that their choices are honoured and upheld. Simultaneously, they acknowledge the necessity of accounting for the patient’s social context and broader community when considering euthanasia as a compassionate option. Nevertheless, concerns are raised by some about the potential risks posed by euthanasia legislation, particularly for the most vulnerable individuals, such as the elderly and the mentally ill. These concerns centre on the negative consequences that may arise when individual autonomy is exercised without consideration for others or for societal well-being, and the concept of “social death,” which refers to the marginalization and exclusion of individuals from social relationships and networks due to illness or disability [ 42 , 43 ].

Amidst these complexities, the ethical value of autonomy stands as a paramount consideration. However, its application necessitates thoughtful consideration and balance with other values, including justice, equality, and societal responsibility. Recent reflections on “relational autonomy” have prompted critical evaluations of the idea of pure autonomy, emphasizing the need to delve deeper into the micro, meso, and macro levels that underpin autonomy and address potential conflicts between individual and relational autonomy [ 44 ]. Further, it highlights the imperative to take the broader societal context into account when grappling with the ethical challenges associated with euthanasia [ 45 ].

Compassion: virtue ethics

Our study confirms that while the value of autonomy holds importance, it is not the sole determinant in the ethical considerations surrounding euthanasia [ 46 ]. In this complex discourse, numerous other ethical values and virtues come to the fore, including the significance of compassion towards suffering individuals and the imperative of alleviating their distress. Notably, compassion is not merely a singular principle, but rather a profound ground attitude or virtue that motivates individuals to empathize with the pain of others and take actions to provide relief.

As revealed in our research, participants who opposed euthanasia did not invoke religious frameworks; instead, they explored diverse philosophical approaches to comprehend suffering and compassion. Among these, non-Western philosophies emphasized embracing suffering as an intrinsic aspect of life, acknowledging the impermanence of all things, including suffering. Additionally, the existentialist perspective of Albert Camus underscored suffering’s innate connection to human existence, leading to deeper self-understanding and comprehension of the world.

These philosophical viewpoints find relevance in the realm of ethics as well. Virtue ethics, in particular, highlights the significance of cultivating virtues such as courage and resilience, while narrative ethics emphasizes storytelling as a means to gain profound insight and reflection on experiences of suffering [ 47 , 48 ]. Such narratives foster empathy and create a shared sense of experience and community.

Our results show that, for some, suffering may hold positive value in various ways. The nature and intensity of suffering, alongside an individual’s values and virtues, beliefs, and coping capacity, significantly influence the ethics of euthanasia decision-making. An intricate approach that recognizes the multifaceted impacts of suffering becomes essential, acknowledging that various factors could potentially influence the experience of suffering as well as the interpretation of the consequences of the suffering experience. It’s possible that this approach doesn’t solely depend on the quantity of suffering or even its nature. Instead, it could be related to the delicate balance between one’s ability to endure suffering, the burden it places on them, and the (ir)remediableness of this burden, which can vary greatly among individuals as well as it might change over time. Such an approach aims to alleviate relentless suffering and, in certain cases, relieve unnecessary and enduring distress without consistently imposing interpretations upon it. Thus, acknowledging that, experiences of suffering are inherent to life and might act as drivers for personal development, fostering resilience, empathy, and a deeper apprehension of life’s essence, while it also might represent something irremediable, underscores the significance of a broader meaning of the concept of compassion as guiding principle in euthanasia discussions. These discussions further extend to the recognition of the dynamic trajectory inherent to the burden of suffering, as well as its potential for temporal evolution within the individual experiences of the afflicted. Such recognition not only fosters a more intricate understanding of the complex interplay between suffering and resilience but also highlights the acknowledgment that there may be moments when suffering becomes unendurable, surpassing the individual’s capacity to cope. This dimension introduces a layer of intricacy to the ethical considerations inherent in these discussions, thus necessitating a nuanced approach that contemplates the potentialities as well as the constraints of human endurance and the associated ethical ramifications.

Quality care: social approach

Examining euthanasia debates from a sociological perspective sheds light on the influence of societal inequalities in healthcare access and quality on the practice of euthanasia, and how it can shape personal, relational, and societal values, leading to the normalization or culturalization of euthanasia [ 49 ]. A noteworthy finding in this context is the contrasting perspectives on the evolving process of dying, transitioning from being perceived as in God’s hands to a more medical realm, where proponents of euthanasia view medicine as a catalyst for granting individuals greater control over the timing, manner, and circumstances of their own deaths. They envision the opportunity to be surrounded by loved ones and maintain consciousness while embracing the option of euthanasia, which they believe improves the quality of life at the end.

Proponents also emphasize additional benefits, such as enhanced transparency and regulation, ensuring ethical conduct through regulatory measures. They express concerns about a cultural environment where certain physicians adopt paternalistic attitudes and resist accepting death, prioritizing the extension of life as a moral imperative. In contrast, critical voices argue that death and dying have become increasingly medicalized, leading to their institutionalization. Some critics further contend that this medicalization has devalued the dying process and commodified life itself, leading patients, and families to increasingly rely on medical interventions at life’s end.

Moreover, as shared by some of the interviewees, the growing acceptance of medical assistance in dying may raise concerns. It’s conceivable that this evolving attitude could contribute to a perception of death undergoing a shift in seriousness, resulting in decisions about one’s life conclusion being made with less comprehensive thought and insufficient reflection. Consequently, this scenario could potentially lead individuals who are more susceptible to experiencing feelings of life’s insignificance, weariness, or sense of being ‘through with life’, to lean towards considering euthanasia. However, this inclination might also be driven by a lack of sufficient access to the necessary, long-term quality mental health care that would otherwise facilitate the pursuit of a life imbued with adequate significance, comfort, and dignity, achievable through appropriate (mental) healthcare.

Earlier research indicates that Belgium’s psychiatric care system has been grappling with underfunding and fragmentation, leading to individuals falling through the gaps in the mental health safety net [ 50 ]. One critical aspect is, e.g., the inadequate investment in long-term, intensive care, which is precisely the kind of support that individuals grappling with such existential questions may require.

Hence, in the context of euthanasia debates, the value of quality care emerges, encompassing the principle of beneficence, which emphasizes the obligation to provide good care and enhance the overall well-being of individuals. Ethical considerations go beyond the individual’s right to autonomy, extending to societal factors that influence healthcare practices and attitudes towards euthanasia. Addressing the impact of healthcare disparities and the medicalization of dying becomes imperative to ensure ethical and compassionate decision-making that upholds the true value of quality care and respect for human dignity.

Justice: societal policy contexts

In the context of euthanasia in somatic versus psychiatric medicine, ethical considerations regarding euthanasia often revolve around the fundamental value of justice [ 23 , 51 , 52 ]. Some respondents in our study emphasized the need for parity between somatic and psychiatric illnesses, recognizing that there should be no distinction between patients suffering from either. They argued that upholding the principle of justice demands equal treatment and recognition of the suffering experienced by individuals with psychiatric illnesses.

However, for others, achieving justice requires acknowledging and addressing the unique challenges faced by patients predominantly suffering from psychiatric illnesses. A comprehensive and integrated healthcare approach is proposed, where mental health is regarded as an integral part of overall health. This approach involves allocating the same level of attention and resources to psychiatric medicine as given to somatic illnesses, aiming to combat stigma and discrimination towards individuals with psychiatric conditions. Equitable treatment during life and at the end of life becomes the focus.

Yet, the Belgian context of psychiatry presents significant challenges. The field is characterized by underfunding and fragmented care, particularly for individuals with longstanding and complex psychiatric problems [ 53 ]. Additionally, the end-of-life care for psychiatric patients is still underdeveloped, and palliative psychiatry is in its early stages, lacking a uniformly agreed-upon definition or clear implementation guidelines [ 54 ]. In response, Belgium is exploring the “Oyster Care” model, designed to provide flexible, personalized care for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness who may be at risk of neglect or overburdened by psychiatric services [ 55 ]. This model aims to create a safe “exoskeleton” or supportive environment for patients, recognizing that recovery, reintegration, and resocialization might not be attainable for everyone with certain psychiatric conditions [ 55 ].

However, the integration of Oyster Care in today’s psychiatric practice is still limited and requires further development. Emphasizing the value of justice calls for continued efforts to enhance and refine psychiatric care, ensuring that individuals with psychiatric illnesses receive equitable treatment throughout their lives, including end-of-life care decisions [ 55 , 56 ].

Implications for future research, policy, and practice

In terms of policy and practice, our findings indicate that the discourse surrounding euthanasia extends beyond legal or medical considerations and encompasses fundamental ethical values that underpin our society. These values may not always be aligned and can create ethical dilemmas that are challenging to address. A value-centred approach to the euthanasia debate necessitates a constructive ethical dialogue among various actors involved, including patients, healthcare practitioners, and the wider community. This conversation should strive to comprehend the diverse values involved and endeavour to achieve a balance between these values. Additionally, ethical dialogue might encourage individuals to reflect on their own assumptions and beliefs, leading to more informed and thoughtful decision-making on ethical and moral issues. Ultimately, ethical dialogue can promote a more just and equitable society that prioritizes empathy, understanding, and mutual respect.

It is also crucial to acknowledge that patients with somatic illnesses and those with psychiatric illnesses may have different needs and expectations regarding the end of life. Hence, end-of life healthcare must be sensitive to the unique needs of each group. This recognition of differences does not justify unequal treatment or discrimination based on the type of illness. Instead, it involves addressing the different needs and expectations of each patient group while ensuring equitable and high-quality care for all.

As regards research, most articles on euthanasia legislation to date placed the emphasis on what other countries and states can learn from the Belgian and Dutch euthanasia practice. In addition, what can be learned is mainly restricted to the evidence and reflections on factual issues from a global practical-clinical perspective. Consequently, one of the main ethical, clinical, and societal issues remains unrequited, namely the impact of legislation and its consequences on an intrapersonal, interpersonal, medical, social, and societal level. Although cultural diversity is recently put high on the research agenda concerning general health care and mental health care, it is largely understudied in the context of end-of-life decisions and largely ignored in the context of psychiatry. Fewer articles have focused on what the latter countries may learn from those not implementing or not considering euthanasia legislation. In an increasingly diverse society, rapidly evolving in terms of fluidity and multi-ethnicity, cross-cultural research can help us learn from one another. To address the many dimensions of euthanasia, there is a need for input from a variety of academic fields, including sociology, anthropology, communication studies, and history. Further interdisciplinary research in all these areas could help inform policy and practice related to euthanasia.

Strengths and limitations

This is the first empirical in-depth interview study that uncovered the underlying ethical considerations of a variety and relatively large sample of health care professionals and volunteers in Belgium, a country with one of the most permissive legislative frameworks regarding euthanasia, as – unlike in some other countries – it does not exclude adults with psychiatric conditions per definition. Belgium is also one of the pioneering countries with such a legislative framework and can boast on two decades of euthanasia legislation and implementation.

We succeeded in providing a unique and representative sample of participants, varying in gender, work setting and expertise, and stances regarding euthanasia. Finally, and unlike former scientific studies that focused on either the somatic or psychiatric context, we now gauged for participants’ ethical perspectives on euthanasia in both fields of medicine.

There are also several limitations to our study. We may have experienced selection bias, as our sample of non-physicians had varying ages, but the sample of physicians was mostly older than 60. In addition, some interviews had to be postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions and, potentially, due to legal and emotional concerns surrounding a high-profile euthanasia case being brought to court. Additionally, our sample exhibited heterogeneity regarding worldview (religious or non-religious), but possibly not regarding other culture-sensitive aspects, like migration background. As our qualitative research focused on exploring themes, narratives, and shared experiences rather than on ensuring high participation rates for statistical generalizability, drawing definitive conclusions regarding the prevalence of each opinion (pro/ambivalent/critical/against), the level of experience, or perspective across the entire spectrum of euthanasia practice is beyond the scope of our study.

Finally, although there is a growing number of countries and states around the globe with a legislative framework on euthanasia, all the legal frameworks differ from one another, so the results of our study cannot be generalized to the specific euthanasia context in e.g., Switzerland or Canada.

Our study illuminates the foundational values guiding perceptions of euthanasia, including autonomy, compassion, quality care, and justice, which permeate through four interconnected tiers: the patient, their inner circle, the medical community, and society at large. Despite varied stances on euthanasia, participants demonstrated a convergence of ethical principles across these tiers, shaped by nuanced interpretations and considerations. While explicit discussions of distinct ethical values were infrequent, their profound impact on euthanasia perspectives underscores the importance of ethical discourse in navigating this complex issue. By fostering inclusive dialogue and reconciling diverse values, we can promote informed decision-making, justice, and empathy in end-of-life care, particularly in psychiatric settings. Interdisciplinary research is essential for a comprehensive understanding of euthanasia’s dimensions and to inform policy development. While our study is rooted in Belgium, its implications extend to the broader euthanasia discourse, suggesting avenues for further exploration and cross-cultural understanding.

Data availability

The datasets generated and/or analysed during the current study are not publicly available due reasons of privacy and anonymity, but are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request, following procedures from all 3 Medical Ethics Committees involved. To access the supplementary materials, see the Open Science Framework repository at https://osf.io/26gez/?view_only=af42caddb2554acfb7d1d5aabd4dec7a . Upon publication of this paper, the repository will be made public, and a shorter link will be provided.

Mroz S, Dierickx S, Deliens L, Cohen J, Chambaere K. Assisted dying around the world: a status quaestionis. Ann Palliat Med. 2021;10(3):3540–53. https://apm.amegroups.com/article/view/50986/html

Belgian Official Gazette. Wet betreffende de Euthanasie (Law on Euthanasia) (in Dutch). 2002;2002/09590, 28515. http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi_loi/change_lg.pl?language=nl&la=N&cn=2002052837&table_name=wet

FCECE (Federal Control- and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia). Euthanasie - Cijfers van 2023 (Press release: Euthanasia - Figures for the year 2023). 2024; https://overlegorganen.gezondheid.belgie.be/nl/documenten/persbericht-fcee-euthanasie-cijfers-van-2023

Dierickx S, Deliens L, Cohen J, Chambaere K. Euthanasia for people with psychiatric disorders or dementia in Belgium: analysis of officially reported cases. BMC Psychiatry. 2017;17(1):203. http://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/ https://doi.org/10.1186/s12888-017-1369-0

Federal Control and Evaluation Committee for Euthanasia (FCECE). Ninth Report to the Belgian Parliament, 2018–2019. 2020.

Federal Control and Evaluation Committee for Euthanasia (FCECE). Eighth Report to the Parliament (2016–2017). Brussels, Belgium. 2018. https://leif.be/data/press-articles/FCEEC_-_8_euthanasie-verslag_2016-2017-nl.pdf

Federal Control and Evaluation Committee for Euthanasia (FCECE). Seventh Report to the Belgian Parliament. Vol. 001. Brussels, Belgium. 2016. https://leif.be/data/press-articles/FCEED_-_Verslag_Wetgevende_Kamers_-_periode_2014-2015_25-10-16.pdf

FCECE (Federal Control- and Evaluation Committee on Euthanasia). EUTHANASIE – Cijfers van 2020. Vol. 64. 2021. https://overlegorganen.gezondheid.belgie.be/sites/default/files/documents/fcee-cijfers-2020_persbericht.pdf

Federal Control and Evaluation Committee for Euthanasia (FCECE). Tenth Report to the Belgian Parliament. Brussels, Belgium. 2022. https://overlegorganen.gezondheid.belgie.be/nl/documenten

Vonkel JAARVERSLAGVONKEL. 2021 (Annual Report of the end-of-life consultation center Vonkel, 2021). Ghent; 2022. https://www.vonkeleenluisterendhuis.be/teksten/jaarverslag2021.pdf

Vonkel een luisterend huis. JAARVERSLAG VONKEL. 2020. 2021; https://www.vonkeleenluisterendhuis.be/teksten/jaarverslag2020.pdf

Vonkel. JAARVERSLAG VONKEL 2019 (Annual Report of the end-of-life consultation center Vonkel, 2019). 2020. http://vonkeleenluisterendhuis.be/teksten/jaarverslag2019.pdf

Verhofstadt M, Audenaert K, Van den Broeck K, Deliens L, Mortier F, Titeca K et al. The engagement of psychiatrists in the assessment of euthanasia requests from psychiatric patients in Belgium: a survey study. BMC Psychiatry. 2020.

Verhofstadt M, Audenaert K, Van den Broeck K, Deliens L, Mortier F, Titeca K et al. Belgian psychiatrists’ attitudes towards, and readiness to engage in, euthanasia assessment procedures with adults with psychiatric conditions: a survey. BMC Psychiatry. 2020.

Dees MK, Vernooij-Dassen MJ, Dekkers WJ, Elwyn G, Vissers KC, van Weel C. Perspectives of decision-making in requests for euthanasia: A qualitative research among patients, relatives and treating physicians in the Netherlands. Palliat Med. 2013 Jan [cited 2012 Dec 26];27(1):27–37. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23104511

Evenblij K, Pasman HRW, Pronk R, Onwuteaka-Philipsen BD. Euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide in patients suffering from psychiatric disorders: a cross-sectional study exploring the experiences of Dutch psychiatrists. BMC Psychiatry. 2019;1–10. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12888-019-2053-3?utm_source=researcher_app&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=MKEF_USG_Researcher_inbound

Verhofstadt M, Audenaert K, Van den Broeck K, Deliens L, Mortier F, Titeca K et al. Flemish Psychiatrist’s Attitudes and Readiness to Engage in Euthanasia Assessment Procedures concerning Psychiatric Patients (forthcoming).

Pronk R, Evenblij K, Willems DL, van de Vathorst S. Considerations by Dutch Psychiatrists Regarding Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide in Psychiatry. J Clin Psychiatry. 2019;80(6). https://www.psychiatrist.com/JCP/article/Pages/2019/v80/19m12736.aspx

Bolt EE, Snijdewind MC, Willems DL, van der Heide A, Onwuteaka-Philipsen BD. Can physicians conceive of performing euthanasia in case of psychiatric disease, dementia or being tired of living? J Med Ethics. 2015;41(8):592–8. http://jme.bmj.com/lookup/doi/ https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2014-102150

van Zwol M, de Boer F, Evans N, Widdershoven G. Moral values of Dutch physicians in relation to requests for euthanasia: a qualitative study. BMC Med Ethics. 2022;23(1):1–7. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-022-00834-4

Ten Cate K, van Tol DG, van de Vathorst S. Considerations on requests for euthanasia or assisted suicide; a qualitative study with Dutch general practitioners. Fam Pract. 2017;34(6):723–9.

Article   Google Scholar  

Pronk R, Sindram NP, van de Vathorst S, Willems DL. Experiences and views of Dutch general practitioners regarding physician-assisted death for patients suffering from severe mental illness: a mixed methods approach. Scand J Prim Health Care. 2021;39(2):166–73. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/ https://doi.org/10.1080/02813432.2021.1913895

Nicolini ME, Kim SYH, Churchill ME, Gastmans C. Should euthanasia and assisted suicide for psychiatric disorders be permitted? A systematic review of reasons. Psychol Med. 2020;50(8):1241–56. https://www.cambridge.org/core/product/identifier/S0033291720001543/type/journal_article

Demedts D, Roelands M, Libbrecht J, Bilsen J. The attitudes, role & knowledge of mental health nurses towards euthanasia because of unbearable mental suffering in Belgium: a pilot study. J Psychiatr Ment Health Nurs. 2018;25(7):400–10.

Belgian Congregation of Brothers of Charity. Reakiro (in Dutch). 2020 [cited 2022 Mar 13]. https://reakiro.be/

Berger P, Luckmann T. The reality of everyday life. The social construction of reality: a treatise in the sociology of knowledge. New York: Doubleday & Company; 1966.

Google Scholar  

Verhofstadt M. Euthanasia in the Context of Adult Psychiatry: Walking the Tightrope Between Life and Death [PhD-Thesis]. Vrije Universiteit Brussel & Ghent University; 2022. https://cris.vub.be/ws/portalfiles/portal/86844133/Verhofstadt_Monica_PhD_thesis_23.05.2022.pdf

Pronk R. A dialogue on death: On mental illness and physician-assisted dying. [PHD Thesis]. Universiteit van Amsterdam; 2021. https://pure.uva.nl/ws/files/65781146/Thesis_complete_.pdf

Braun V, Clarke V. Is thematic analysis used well in health psychology? A critical review of published research, with recommendations for quality practice and reporting. Health Psychol Rev. 2023;17(4):695–718. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/ https://doi.org/10.1080/17437199.2022.2161594

Saunders B, Sim J, Kingstone T, Baker S, Waterfield J, Bartlam B, et al. Saturation in qualitative research: exploring its conceptualization and operationalization. Qual Quant. 2018;52(4):1893–907.

Beauchamp, Childress TJ. Principles of Medical Ethics. Volume 459. Oxford Univ; 2009.

McCormack R, Clifford M, Conroy M. Attitudes of UK doctors towards euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide: A systematic literature review. Palliat Med. 2012;26(1):23–33. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0269216310397688

Roelands M, Van den Block L, Geurts S, Deliens L, Cohen J. Attitudes of Belgian Students of Medicine, Philosophy, and Law Toward Euthanasia and the Conditions for Its Acceptance. Death Stud. 2015;39(3):139–50. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/ https://doi.org/10.1080/07481187.2014.920433

Baranzke H. Sanctity-of-Life—A Bioethical Principle for a Right to Life? Ethical Theory Moral Pract. 2012;15(3):295–308. http://link.springer.com/ https://doi.org/10.1007/s10677-012-9369-0

Lockhart C, Lee CHJ, Sibley CG, Osborne D. The sanctity of life: The role of purity in attitudes towards abortion and euthanasia. Int J Psychol. 2023;58(1):16–29. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/ https://doi.org/10.1002/ijop.12877

Muishout G, van Laarhoven HWM, Wiegers G, Popp-Baier U. Muslim physicians and palliative care: attitudes towards the use of palliative sedation. Support Care Cancer. 2018;26(11):3701–10. http://link.springer.com/ https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-018-4229-7

Sabriseilabi S, Williams J. Dimensions of religion and attitudes toward euthanasia. Death Stud. 2022;46(5):1149–56. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07481187.2020.1800863

Baumgartner F, Flores G. Contemporary Medical Students’ Perceptions of the Hippocratic Oath. Linacre Q. 2018;85(1):63–73. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0024363918756389

Schuklenk U. The ethical case against assisted euthanasia has not been made. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2015.

Hajar R. The physician’s oath: Historical perspectives. Hear Views. 2017;18(4):154. http://www.heartviews.org/text.asp?2017/18/4/154/221224

Igel LH, Lerner BH. Moving Past Individual and Pure Autonomy: The Rise of Family-Centered Patient Care. AMA J Ethics. 2016;18(1):56–62. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18733507 http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=PMC1650661

Borgstrom E. Social Death. QJM. 2017;110(1):5–7. https://academic.oup.com/qjmed/article-lookup/doi/ https://doi.org/10.1093/qjmed/hcw183

Králová J. What is social death? Contemp Soc Sci. 2015;10(3):235–48. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21582041.2015.1114407

Ho A. Relational autonomy or undue pressure? Family’s role in medical decision-making. Scand J Caring Sci. 2008;22(1):128–35.

Gómez-Vírseda C, de Maeseneer Y, Gastmans C. Relational autonomy: what does it mean and how is it used in end-of-life care? A systematic review of argument-based ethics literature. BMC Med Ethics. 2019;20(1):76. https://bmcmedethics.biomedcentral.com/articles/ https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-019-0417-3

Liégeois A. Values in dialogue: Ethics in Care. Peeters Publishing; 2016. p. 138.

Nussbaum M. Upheavals of Thought. The intelligence of emotions. In Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; 2001.

Book   Google Scholar  

MacIntyre A. After Virtue. A study in Moral Theory. 3rd ed. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame.; 2007.

Campbell CS. Dying well, dying badly: ethical issues at the end of life. Death and religion in a changing world. Routledge. In; 2022. pp. 226–53.

Mistiaen P, Cornelis J, Detollenaere J, Devriese S, Farfan-Portet M, Ricour C. Organisation of mental health care for adults in Belgium. Health Services Research (HSR)Brussels: Belgian Health Care Knowledge Centre (KCE). 2019. KCE Reports 318. D/2019/10. 2019. https://kce.fgov.be/sites/default/files/atoms/files/KCE_318_Mental_Health_care_Report_0.pdf

Rooney W, Schuklenk U, van de Vathorst S. Are concerns about Irremediableness, vulnerability, or competence sufficient to Justify excluding all Psychiatric patients from Medical Aid in Dying? Heal Care Anal. 2018.

Dembo J, Schuklenk U, Reggler J. For Their Own Good: A Response to Popular Arguments Against Permitting Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) where Mental Illness Is the Sole Underlying Condition. Can J Psychiatry. 2018;63(7):451–6. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/ https://doi.org/10.1177/0706743718766055

Hermans MHM, de Witte N, Dom G. The state of psychiatry in Belgium. Int Rev Psychiatry. 2012;24(4):286–94. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/ https://doi.org/10.3109/09540261.2012.690337

Lindblad A, Helgesson G, Sjöstrand M. Towards a palliative care approach in psychiatry: do we need a new definition? J Med Ethics. 2019;45(1):26–30. https://jme.bmj.com/lookup/doi/ https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2018-104944

Decorte I, Verfaillie F, Moureau L, Meynendonckx S, Van Ballaer K, De Geest I et al. Oyster Care: an innovative Palliative Approach towards SPMI patients. Front Psychiatry. 2020.

De Rycke R, Sabbe S. Psychiatrie. Wat Je Moet Weten (Psychiatry. What you need to know). 4th ed. Leuven (Louvain): Uitgeverij LannooCampus; 2019. p. 304.

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank prof. dr. Kenneth Chambaere and prof. dr. Kurt Audenaert for their preliminary advice regarding the ethics of the research methodology, dr. Steven Vanderstichelen for his help with the interviews (i.e., conducting and transcribing) and all the participants for sharing their professional and in some cases also personal experiences during the interview. We’d also like to thank prof. dr. Kenneth Chambaere for the supervision during the conducting of the interviews and his feedback on the ‘near to final’ draft.

MV is funded by the Research Foundation Flanders via research project (G017818N) and PhD fellowship (1162618 N).

Author information

Authors and affiliations.

End-of-life Care Research Group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) & Ghent University, Laarbeeklaan 103, Brussels, 1090, Belgium

Monica Verhofstadt & Koen Pardon

Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, KU Leuven, Louvain, Belgium

Loïc Moureau & Axel Liégeois

Organisation Brothers of Charity, Ghent, Belgium

Axel Liégeois

You can also search for this author in PubMed   Google Scholar

Contributions

The article has been developed with the following authors’ contributions: MV was responsible for the study methodology and managed ethical approval; MV conducted most of the interviews and wrote the main manuscript texts. AL drafted the ethical interpretation framework. MV, LM, KP and AL were responsible for the coding structure and data interpretation and performed a critical review and revision of the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Monica Verhofstadt .

Ethics declarations

Ethics approval and consent to participate.

This research project was performed in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki and the European rules of the General Data Protection Regulation. It received ethical approval from the Medical Ethics Committee of the Brussels University Hospital with reference BUN 143201939499, from the Medical Ethics Committee of Ghent University Hospital with reference 2019/0456, and from the Medical Ethics Committee of the Brothers of Charity with reference OG054-2019-20. The interviews were held after obtaining informed consent from all the participants.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Competing interests

MV has received research grants from the Research Foundation Flanders; no other relationships or activities that could appear to have influenced the submitted work were declared. All other authors declare that they do not have any competing interest.

Transparency declaration

MV is the guarantor of the manuscript and affirm that the manuscript is an honest, accurate, and transparent account of the study being reported; that no important aspects of the study have been omitted; and that any discrepancy from the study have been noted and explained in the manuscript.

Additional information

Publisher’s note.

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary Material 1

Rights and permissions.

Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ . The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/ ) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article.

Verhofstadt, M., Moureau, L., Pardon, K. et al. Ethical perspectives regarding Euthanasia, including in the context of adult psychiatry: a qualitative interview study among healthcare workers in Belgium. BMC Med Ethics 25 , 60 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-024-01063-7

Download citation

Received : 04 September 2023

Accepted : 15 May 2024

Published : 21 May 2024

DOI : https://doi.org/10.1186/s12910-024-01063-7

Share this article

Anyone you share the following link with will be able to read this content:

Sorry, a shareable link is not currently available for this article.

Provided by the Springer Nature SharedIt content-sharing initiative

  • End-of-life
  • Medical assistance in dying
  • Mental disorders

BMC Medical Ethics

ISSN: 1472-6939

review of religious research

  • Find My Rep

You are here

Review of Religious Research

Review of Religious Research

Preview this book.

  • Description
  • Aims and Scope
  • Editorial Board
  • Abstracting / Indexing
  • Submission Guidelines

Aims & Scope:

The Review of Religious Research (RRR) journal aims to publish manuscripts meeting these six scope criteria: (1) reports empirical research; (2) attends to religiosity and spirituality topics; (3) identifies religious groups and their adherents; (4) engages in interdisciplinary social science research practices; (5) describes methods and analytical techniques; and (6) applies research with relevance for practitioners. Criteria are described below.

Empirical Research

Manuscripts meet the empirical social science research scope criteria by reporting on observable behaviors, actions, orientations, and more of social groups. The goal is to understand and analyze rather than seeking to propagate a religion, proselytize, evangelize, or in other ways directly represent a religious view. Valuing the goal of replicability and peer review, empirical research typically includes a methods section that explains how data were collected, why, using what procedures, under which conditions, and toward what types of analysis.

Relevant Topics – Scroll below for an expanded list of specific topics.For a full list of topics please click here .

  • Religious leaders, services, programs, participation, practices, beliefs, organizations, changes, movements
  • Religion & civics, family, gender, sex, race, youth, education, science, poverty, crime, attitudes, wellbeing
  • Spirituality, spiritual practices, spiritual communities

Applied Practitioners

The journal is particularly interested in publishing applied research with implications for:

  • Clergy, pastoral leaders, lay leaders, other religious leaders
  • Professionals, staff, volunteers in faith-based organizations, NGOs, INGOS, international networks
  • Grantmakers, funders, grant program officers
  • Fundraisers, major gifts officers, donor prospect researchers
  • Volunteer coordinators, social movement community engagers
  • Service providers, program delivery coordinators

Religious Groups

1. Islam, Muslims

2. Buddhism, Buddhists

3. Hinduism, Hindus

4. Judaism, Jewish

5. Confucianism, Confucians

6. Sikhism, Sikhists

7. Daoism, Taoism, Daoist, Taoists

8. Catholicism, Catholics

9. Christianity, Christians

10. Protestantism, Protestants

11. Evangelicalism, Evangelicals

12. Mainline Protestantism, Protestants

13. Pentecostalism, Pentecostals

14. Orthodoxy: Eastern, Catholic, Judaism, Christianity

15. Folk religions: Chinese, African; Ethnoreligious

16. Spiritism, Spiritists

17. Bahá'í, Bahaism, Bahá'ís

18. Jainism, Jainists

19. Shintoism, Shintoists

20. Zoroastrianism, Zoroastrians

21. New religions, new religious movements

22. Atheism, Agnosticism, Atheists, Agnostics

23. Religious unaffiliated, disaffiliated, non-affiliated, or religious “nones”

Interdisciplinar

Valuing multiple approaches in the empirical study of religion, the journal typically publishes research from disciplines such as: sociology, psychology, social psychology, political science, economics.

Methods & Analysis

2. In-depth interviews

3. Ethnographies

4. Case studies

5. Quantitative analysis

6. Qualitative analysis

7. Content analysis

8. Mixed methods analysis

  • Clarivate Analytics: Social Science Citation Index (SSCI)

Manuscript Submission Guidelines: Review of Religious Research

This Journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics .

This Journal recommends that authors follow the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals formulated by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).

Please read the guidelines below then visit the Journal’s submission site https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/rrr to upload your manuscript. Please note that manuscripts not conforming to these guidelines may be returned.

Sage Publishing disseminates high-quality research and engaged scholarship globally, and we are committed to diversity and inclusion in publishing. We encourage submissions from a diverse range of authors from across all countries and backgrounds.

Only manuscripts of sufficient quality that meet the aims and scope of Review of Religious Research will be reviewed.

Publication fees

The submitted manuscript will be initially screened to see if it suitable for publication in the Review of Religious Research . The corresponding author will be contacted about the manuscript’s suitability.

If the manuscript is found to be suitable, a modest processing fee must be paid before the manuscript can be processed further, unless one of the authors is a member of the Religious Research Association (RRA). The processing fee includes a 1-year annual membership in the RRA.

By submitting the manuscript, the authors agree to pay the processing fee.

To pay the submission fee and become a member, visit the RRA website .

Also see section 5.2 below, Information Required for Submitting your Manuscript.

Originality

As part of the submission process you will be required to warrant that you are submitting your original work, that you have the rights in the work, and that you have obtained and can supply all necessary permissions for the reproduction of any copyright works not owned by you, that you are submitting the work for first publication in the Journal and that it is not being considered for publication elsewhere and has not already been published elsewhere. Please see our guidelines on prior publication and note that Review of Religious Research will consider submissions of papers that have been posted on preprint servers; please alert the Editorial Office when submitting (contact details are at the end of these guidelines) and include the DOI for the preprint in the designated field in the manuscript submission system. Authors should not post an updated version of their paper on the preprint server while it is being peer reviewed for possible publication in the Journal. If the article is accepted for publication, the author may re-use their work according to the Journal's author archiving policy.

If your paper is accepted, you must include a link on your preprint to the final version of your paper.

If you have any questions about publishing with Sage, please visit the Sage Journal Solutions Portal .

  • What do we publish? 1.1 Aims & Scope 1.2 Article types 1.3 Writing your paper
  • Editorial policies 2.1 Peer review policy 2.2 Authorship 2.3 Acknowledgements 2.4 Funding 2.5 Declaration of conflicting interests 2.6 Research ethics and patient consent 2.7 Reporting guidelines 2.8 Research data
  • Publishing policies 3.1 Publication ethics 3.2 Contributor’s publishing agreement 3.3 Open access and author archiving
  • Preparing your manuscript 4.1 Formatting 4.2 Artwork, figures and other graphics 4.3 Identifiable information 4.4 Supplemental material 4.5 Reference style 4.6 English language editing services
  • Submitting your manuscript 5.1 ORCID 5.2 Information required for completing your submission 5.3 Permissions
  • On acceptance and publication 6.1 Sage Production 6.2 Online First publication 6.3 Access to your published article 6.4 Promoting your article
  • Further information 7.1 Appealing the publication decision

1. What do we publish?

1.1 Aims & Scope

Before submitting your manuscript to Review of Religious Research , please ensure you have read the Aims & Scope [ https://rraweb.org/journal-review-of-religious-research/aims-and-scope/] .

1.2 Article types

Original Research Articles

Original research articles present scholarly and methodologically rigorous empirical analysis. Sections: Introduction, Literature Review (typically labeled by topical headings), Data and Methods, Results, Discussion (including limitations, implications, conclusions). Before submitting a manuscript, authors should read the journal’s Aims & Scope for more information. Maximum 10,000 words, 40 double-spaced manuscript pages, including references.

Research Notes

Research notes are similar to original research articles in presenting scholarly and methodologically rigorous empirical analysis. Notes are briefer than articles and typically provide less theoretical framing and literature reviewing than articles. The focus is on the study design and results. Sections: Introduction, Data and Methods, Results, Discussion (including limitations). Maximum 7,500 words, 30 double-spaced pages, including references.

Review Articles

Review articles provide a comprehensive summary of relevant existing studies, including a synthesis of their relevant theory, methods, and findings on topic(s) of interest to the journal (see Aims & Scope). Sections: Introduction, Background, Data and Methods (describe sources, inclusion and exclusion criteria), Results, Discussion (limitations, implications, conclusions). Maximum 10,000 words, 40 double-spaced pages, including references.

Applied Research Abstracts

Applied research abstracts briefly present the results of an applied study. Sections: Background, Purpose, Methods, Results, Conclusions, and Implications. Applied abstracts are 350-550 words and should include a footnote explaining to readers how to access the report, data, or additional information on the study.

Contexts of Religious Research

Contexts include award announcements, memoriams, commentaries about the process of conducting research (e.g., applications of research methods to topics relevant to the journal), profiles of denominational research organizations, or invited addresses from the Religious Research Association. It is rare that a manuscript of this type would be unsolicited; authors should consult the editor before submitting this type of manuscript. Max 1,000 words.

Book Reviews

Book reviews provide a summary of a scholarly book that identifies the purpose and central themes, highlights important claims or contributions, and offers critical evaluation of thetheories, methods, approach, or limitations (about 800 words). If you would like to review a book for the journal, contact the Book Review Editor, David Eagle, PhD [email protected]

1.3 Writing your paper

The Sage Author Gateway has some general advice and on  how to get published , plus links to further resources. Sage Author Services also offers authors a variety of ways to improve and enhance their article including English language editing, plagiarism detection, and video abstract and infographic preparation.

1.3.1 Make your article discoverable

For information and guidance on how to make your article more discoverable, visit our Gateway page on How to Help Readers Find Your Article Online .

Back to top

2. Editorial policies

2.1 Peer review policy

Review of Religious Research is a refereed journal with an anonymized peer review policy.

Review of Religious Research adheres to an anonymized peer review process in which the reviewer’s name is routinely withheld from the author unless the reviewer requests a preference for their identity to be revealed.

Sage does not permit the use of author-suggested (recommended) reviewers at any stage of the submission process, be that through the web-based submission system or other communication. Reviewers should be experts in their fields and should be able to provide an objective assessment of the manuscript. Our policy is that reviewers should not be assigned to a paper if:

  • The reviewer is based at the same institution as any of the co-authors.
  • The reviewer is based at the funding body of the paper.
  • The author has recommended the reviewer.
  • The reviewer has provided a personal (e.g. Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail) email account and an institutional email account cannot be found after performing a basic Google search (name, department and institution).

The Editor or members of the Editorial Board may occasionally submit their own manuscripts for possible publication in the Journal. In these cases, the peer review process will be managed by alternative members of the Board and the submitting Editor/Board member will have no involvement in the decision-making process.

2.2 Authorship

All parties who have made a substantive contribution to the article should be listed as authors. Principal authorship, authorship order, and other publication credits should be based on the relative scientific or professional contributions of the individuals involved, regardless of their status. A student is usually listed as principal author on any multiple-authored publication that substantially derives from the student’s dissertation or thesis.

          Please note that AI chatbots, for example ChatGPT, should not be listed as authors. For more information see the policy on Use of ChatGPT and generative AI tools .

2.3 Acknowledgements

All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an Acknowledgements section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided purely technical help, or a department chair who provided only general support.

Please supply any personal acknowledgements separately to the main text to facilitate anonymous peer review.

Per ICMJE recommendations , it is best practice to obtain consent from non-author contributors who you are acknowledging in your paper.

2.3.1 Third party submissions Where an individual who is not listed as an author submits a manuscript on behalf of the author(s), a statement must be included in the Acknowledgements section of the manuscript and in the accompanying cover letter. The statements must:

  • Disclose this type of editorial assistance – including the individual’s name, company and level of input
  • Identify any entities that paid for this assistance
  • Confirm that the listed authors have authorized the submission of their manuscript via third party and approved any statements or declarations, e.g. conflicting interests, funding, etc.

Where appropriate, Sage reserves the right to deny consideration to manuscripts submitted by a third party rather than by the authors themselves.

2.3.2 Writing assistance

Individuals who provided writing assistance, e.g. from a specialist communications company, do not qualify as authors and so should be included in the Acknowledgements section. Authors must disclose any writing assistance – including the individual’s name, company and level of input – and identify the entity that paid for this assistance. It is not necessary to disclose use of language polishing services.

2.4 Funding

Review of Religious Research requires all authors to acknowledge their funding in a consistent fashion under a separate heading.  Please visit the Funding Acknowledgements page on the Sage Journal Author Gateway to confirm the format of the acknowledgment text in the event of funding, or state that: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. 

2.5 Declaration of conflicting interests

Review of Religious Research encourages authors to include a declaration of any conflicting interests and recommends you review the good practice guidelines on the Sage Journal Author Gateway .

2.6 Research ethics and patient consent

Submitted manuscripts should conform to the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals , and all papers reporting animal and/or human studies must state in the methods section that the relevant ethics committee or institutional review board provided (or waived) approval. Please ensure that you have provided the full name and institution of the review committee, in addition to the approval number.

For research articles, authors are also required to state in the methods section whether participants provided informed consent and whether the consent was written or verbal.

Information on informed consent to report individual cases or case series should be included in the manuscript text.

Please also refer to the ICMJE Recommendations for the Protection of Research Participants .

2.7 Reporting guidelines

The relevant EQUATOR Network reporting guidelines should be followed depending on the type of study. For example, all randomized controlled trials submitted for publication should include a completed CONSORT flow chart as a cited figure and the completed CONSORT checklist should be uploaded with your submission as a supplementary file. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses should include the completed PRISMA flow chart as a cited figure and the completed PRISMA checklist should be uploaded with your submission as a supplementary file. The EQUATOR wizard can help you identify the appropriate guideline.

Other resources can be found at NLM’s Research Reporting Guidelines and Initiatives .

2.8 Research data

The Journal is committed to facilitating openness, transparency and reproducibility of research, and has the following research data sharing policy. For more information, including FAQs please visit the Sage Research Data policy pages .

Subject to appropriate ethical and legal considerations, authors are encouraged to:

  • Share your research data in a relevant public data repository
  • Include a data availability statement. This should:
  • Indicate if data is available and shared
  • In certain cases, indicate if research data is available but not shared, and why. For example, if the data are drawn from qualitative, in-depth interviews that cannot be de-identified, please provide this explanation in the data availability statement. Or, if the data are available upon request, please describe this in the data availability statement.
  • Cite data in your research

3. Publishing policies

3.1 Publication ethics

Sage is committed to upholding the integrity of the academic record. We encourage authors to refer to the Committee on Publication Ethics’ International Standards for Authors and view the Publication Ethics page on the Sage Author Gateway .

3.1.1 Plagiarism

Review of Religious Research and Sage take issues of copyright infringement, plagiarism or other breaches of best practice in publication very seriously. We seek to protect the rights of our authors and we always investigate claims of plagiarism or misuse of published articles. Equally, we seek to protect the reputation of the Journal against malpractice. Submitted articles may be checked with duplication-checking software. Where an article, for example, is found to have plagiarized other work or included third-party copyright material without permission or with insufficient acknowledgement, or where the authorship of the article is contested, we reserve the right to take action including, but not limited to: publishing an erratum or corrigendum (correction); retracting the article; taking up the matter with the head of department or dean of the author's institution and/or relevant academic bodies or societies; or taking appropriate legal action.

3.1.2 Prior publication

If material has been previously published it is not generally acceptable for publication in a Sage journal. However, there are certain circumstances where previously published material can be considered for publication. Please refer to the guidance on the Sage Author Gateway or if in doubt, contact the Editor at the address given below.

3.2 Contributor’s publishing agreement

Before publication, Sage requires the author as the rights holder to sign a Journal Contributor’s Publishing Agreement. Sage’s Journal Contributor’s Publishing Agreement is an exclusive licence agreement which means that the author retains copyright in the work but grants Sage the sole and exclusive right and licence to publish for the full legal term of copyright. Exceptions may exist where an assignment of copyright is required or preferred by a proprietor other than Sage. In this case copyright in the work will be assigned from the author to the society. For more information, please visit the Sage Author Gateway .

3.3 Open access and author archiving

Review of Religious Research offers optional open access publishing via the Sage Choice programme and Open Access agreements, where authors can publish open access either discounted or free of charge depending on the agreement with Sage. Find out if your institution is participating by visiting Open Access Agreements at Sage . For more information on Open Access publishing options at Sage please visit Sage Open Access . For information on funding body compliance, and depositing your article in repositories, please visit Sage’s Author Archiving and Re-Use Guidelines and Publishing Policies .

4. Preparing your manuscript

4.1 Formatting

The preferred format for your manuscript is Word.

4.2 Artwork, figures and other graphics

For guidance on the preparation of illustrations, pictures and graphs in electronic format, please visit Sage’s Manuscript Submission Guidelines .

4.3 Identifiable information

Where a journal uses double-anonymised peer review, authors are required to submit:

  • A version of the manuscript which has had any information that compromises the anonymity of the author(s) removed or anonymized. This version will be sent to the peer reviewers.
  • A separate title page which includes any removed or anonymised material. This will not be sent to the peer reviewers.

See https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/Manuscript-preparation-for-double-anonymized-journal for detailed guidance on making an anonymous submission.

Figures supplied in colour will appear in colour online regardless of whether or not these illustrations are reproduced in colour in the printed version. For specifically requested colour reproduction in print, you will receive information regarding the costs from Sage after receipt of your accepted article.

4.4 Supplemental material

This Journal is able to host additional materials online (e.g. datasets, podcasts, videos, images etc.) alongside the full-text of the article. For more information please refer to our guidelines on submitting supplemental files .

4.5 Reference style

Review of Religious Research adheres to the ASA Style Guide. View the guide here to ensure your manuscript conforms to this style.

If you use EndNote to manage references, you can download the ASA output file . If you use Zotero to manage references, you can download the ASA Style Repository .

4.6 English language editing services

Authors seeking assistance with English language editing, translation, or figure and manuscript formatting to fit the Journal’s specifications should consider using Sage Language Services. Visit Sage Language Services on our Journal Author Gateway for further information.

5. Submitting your manuscript

Review of Religious Research is hosted on Sage Track, a web based online submission and peer review system powered by ScholarOne™ Manuscripts. Visit https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/rrr to login and submit your article online.

IMPORTANT : Please check whether you already have an account in the system before trying to create a new one. If you have reviewed or authored for the Journal in the past year it is likely that you will have had an account created.  For further guidance on submitting your manuscript online please visit ScholarOne Online Help .

As part of our commitment to ensuring an ethical, transparent and fair peer review process Sage is a supporting member of ORCID, the Open Researcher and Contributor ID . ORCID provides a unique and persistent digital identifier that distinguishes researchers from every other researcher, even those who share the same name, and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between researchers and their professional activities, ensuring that their work is recognized.

The collection of ORCID iDs from corresponding authors is now part of the submission process of this journal. If you already have an ORCID iD you will be asked to associate that to your submission during the online submission process. We also strongly encourage all co-authors to link their ORCID ID to their accounts in our online peer review platforms. It takes seconds to do: click the link when prompted, sign into your ORCID account and our systems are automatically updated. Your ORCID iD will become part of your accepted publication’s metadata, making your work attributable to you and only you. Your ORCID iD is published with your article so that fellow researchers reading your work can link to your ORCID profile and from there link to your other publications.

If you do not already have an ORCID ID please follow this link to create one or visit our ORCID homepage to learn more.

5.2 Information required for completing your submission

Cover Letter

The Cover Letter must contain the following information (No other information should be included in the letter.):

(1) A statement confirming that all the authors have read the final version of the manuscript and agreed to submit it to Review of Religious Research . (Do not submit your manuscript unless this is true.)

(2) A statement confirming that the manuscript has not been published previously and that it is not currently being reviewed for publication by another journal. (Do not submit your manuscript unless this is true.)

(3) A statement explaining how the manuscript fits into one or more of the topical areas listed in the journal’s Aims & Scope. This statement should also briefly identify at least one of the empirical research methods and analysis listed in the Aims & Scope, or specify an additional empirical method or analysis that is not listed.

(4) The full name, institution, and email address of at least one author of the manuscript who is currently a member of the Religious Research Association, OR; A statement acknowledging the authors agree to pay the fee for the manuscript to be peer-reviewed (if it is initially assessed to be potentially suitable for publication), if no author of the manuscript is a member of the Religious Research Association. See the Fee section below for more details. The waiver of the fee only applies to manuscripts that are authored or co-authored by a member of the Religious Research Association. The fee will not be waived for any other reason.

Sample Letter 1

Dear Editor:

All the authors have read the final version of the manuscript and agreed to submit it to Review of Religious Research . The manuscript has not been published previously, and it is not currently being reviewed for publication by another journal.

The authors think the manuscript fits within the topical areas of Religious Leaders and Religion & Civics because it investigates the ways that people in faith-based organizations draw upon religious language in volunteer recruitment efforts. This is an empirical research study that utilized surveys to collect data for the quantitative analysis and in-depth interviews to inform the qualitative analysis.

[Name of Corresponding Author] of the [Affiliated University or Organization] ( [email protected] ) is the corresponding author of the manuscript and a current member of the Religious Research Association.

[Name of Corresponding Author]

Sample Letter 2

The authors think the manuscript fits within the topic area of Religious Beliefs because it reviews how scholars attend to Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious texts in published research. Although the manuscript does not appear to fit into any of the methods listed in the Aims & Scope, the authors think the manuscript is consistent with the Aims & Scope because the study employs bibliometric techniques to inform a quantitative and qualitative analysis of existing publications.

As none of the authors currently belong to the Religious Research Association, [Name of Corresponding Author] agrees to pay the fee for the manuscript to be peer-reviewed if it is initially assessed to be potentially suitable for publication via the Religious Research Association website (payment will be confirmed with the RRA before proceeding with peer review).

Affiliations

You will be asked to provide contact details and academic affiliations for all co-authors via the submission system and identify who is to be the corresponding author. These details must match what appears on your manuscript. The affiliation listed in the manuscript should be the institution where the research was conducted. If an author has moved to a new institution since completing the research, the new affiliation can be included in a manuscript note at the end of the paper. At this stage please ensure you have included all the required statements and declarations and uploaded any additional supplementary files (including reporting guidelines where relevant).

The title page should include:

  • The name(s) of the author(s)
  • A concise and informative title
  • The affiliation(s) of the author(s), i.e. institution, (department), city, (state), country
  • A clear indication and an active e-mail address of the corresponding author
  • If available, the 16-digit ORCID of the author(s)
  • If address information is provided with the affiliation(s) it will also be published.
  • For authors that are (temporarily) unaffiliated we will only capture their city and country of residence, not their e-mail address unless specifically requested.

Abstract  (150-200 words)

Abstracts should further describe the contents of the manuscript. Begin the abstract by stating the central purpose or aim of the paper. Next, describe the objective and approach of this particular study. The majority of the abstract should summarize the methodological design. Name whether the data were collected through a survey, interview, experiment, ethnography, or other mode. Provide an overview of the sample size and characteristics. It is common to use the notation n=x to indicate the sample (n) equals size (x). Specify that the analysis techniques were quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, or some other type. Briefly state the primary results. Interpret the contributions for theory, research, and/or practice. The readership of RRR is particularly interested in applications for practice, especially for the practitioner sets in the  Aims & Scope .

Please also clearly identify in the abstract the religious group(s) that was studied, the relevant topic(s) from the journal Aims & Scope, and the country(ies) in which the data were collected. If relevant, please indicate for which set(s) of applied practitioners the study has implications.

Please provide 4 to 6 keywords which can be used for indexing purposes. At least one of the keywords must be selected from the topics list in the Aims & Scope.

5.3 Permissions

Please also ensure that you have obtained any necessary permission from copyright holders for reproducing any illustrations, tables, figures or lengthy quotations previously published elsewhere. For further information including guidance on fair dealing for criticism and review, please see the Copyright and Permissions page on the Sage Author Gateway .

6. On acceptance and publication

6.1 Sage Production

Your Sage Production Editor will keep you informed as to your article’s progress throughout the production process. Proofs will be made available to the corresponding author via our editing portal Sage Edit or by email, and corrections should be made directly or notified to us promptly. Authors are reminded to check their proofs carefully to confirm that all author information, including names, affiliations, sequence and contact details are correct, and that Funding and Conflict of Interest statements, if any, are accurate.

6.2 Online First publication

Online First allows final articles (completed and approved articles awaiting assignment to a future issue) to be published online prior to their inclusion in a journal issue, which significantly reduces the lead time between submission and publication. Visit the Sage Journals help page for more details, including how to cite Online First articles.

6.3 Access to your published article

Sage provides authors with online access to their final article.

6.4 Promoting your article

Publication is not the end of the process! You can help disseminate your paper and ensure it is as widely read and cited as possible. The Sage Author Gateway has numerous resources to help you promote your work. Visit the Promote Your Article page on the Gateway for tips and advice.

7. Further information

Any correspondence, queries or additional requests for information on the manuscript submission process should be sent to the Review of Religious Research editorial office as follows:

Patricia Snell Herzog, PhD [email protected]

7.1 Appealing the publication decision

Editors have very broad discretion in determining whether an article is an appropriate fit for their journal. Many manuscripts are declined with a very general statement of the rejection decision. These decisions are not eligible for formal appeal unless the author believes the decision to reject the manuscript was based on an error in the review of the article, in which case the author may appeal the decision by providing the Editor with a detailed written description of the error they believe occurred.

If an author believes the decision regarding their manuscript was affected by a publication ethics breach, the author may contact the publisher with a detailed written description of their concern, and information supporting the concern, at [email protected] .

  • Read Online
  • Sample Issues
  • Current Issue
  • Email Alert
  • Permissions
  • Foreign rights
  • Reprints and sponsorship
  • Advertising

Individual Subscription, E-access

Individual Subscription, Print Only

Individual Subscription, Combined (Print & E-access)

Institutional Subscription, E-access

Institutional Subscription, Print Only

Institutional Subscription, Combined (Print & E-access)

Institutional Subscription & Backfile Lease, Combined Plus Backfile (Current Volume Print & All Online Content)

Individual, Single Print Issue

Institutional, Single Print Issue

Subscription Information

To purchase a non-standard subscription or a back issue, please contact SAGE Customer Services for availability.

[email protected]  +44 (0) 20 7324 8701

  • Find My Rep

You are here

Review of Religious Research

Review of Religious Research

Preview this book.

  • Description
  • Aims and Scope
  • Editorial Board
  • Abstracting / Indexing
  • Submission Guidelines

Aims & Scope:

The Review of Religious Research (RRR) journal aims to publish manuscripts meeting these six scope criteria: (1) reports empirical research; (2) attends to religiosity and spirituality topics; (3) identifies religious groups and their adherents; (4) engages in interdisciplinary social science research practices; (5) describes methods and analytical techniques; and (6) applies research with relevance for practitioners. Criteria are described below.

Empirical Research

Manuscripts meet the empirical social science research scope criteria by reporting on observable behaviors, actions, orientations, and more of social groups. The goal is to understand and analyze rather than seeking to propagate a religion, proselytize, evangelize, or in other ways directly represent a religious view. Valuing the goal of replicability and peer review, empirical research typically includes a methods section that explains how data were collected, why, using what procedures, under which conditions, and toward what types of analysis.

Relevant Topics – Scroll below for an expanded list of specific topics.For a full list of topics please click here .

  • Religious leaders, services, programs, participation, practices, beliefs, organizations, changes, movements
  • Religion & civics, family, gender, sex, race, youth, education, science, poverty, crime, attitudes, wellbeing
  • Spirituality, spiritual practices, spiritual communities

Applied Practitioners

The journal is particularly interested in publishing applied research with implications for:

  • Clergy, pastoral leaders, lay leaders, other religious leaders
  • Professionals, staff, volunteers in faith-based organizations, NGOs, INGOS, international networks
  • Grantmakers, funders, grant program officers
  • Fundraisers, major gifts officers, donor prospect researchers
  • Volunteer coordinators, social movement community engagers
  • Service providers, program delivery coordinators

Religious Groups

1. Islam, Muslims

2. Buddhism, Buddhists

3. Hinduism, Hindus

4. Judaism, Jewish

5. Confucianism, Confucians

6. Sikhism, Sikhists

7. Daoism, Taoism, Daoist, Taoists

8. Catholicism, Catholics

9. Christianity, Christians

10. Protestantism, Protestants

11. Evangelicalism, Evangelicals

12. Mainline Protestantism, Protestants

13. Pentecostalism, Pentecostals

14. Orthodoxy: Eastern, Catholic, Judaism, Christianity

15. Folk religions: Chinese, African; Ethnoreligious

16. Spiritism, Spiritists

17. Bahá'í, Bahaism, Bahá'ís

18. Jainism, Jainists

19. Shintoism, Shintoists

20. Zoroastrianism, Zoroastrians

21. New religions, new religious movements

22. Atheism, Agnosticism, Atheists, Agnostics

23. Religious unaffiliated, disaffiliated, non-affiliated, or religious “nones”

Interdisciplinar

Valuing multiple approaches in the empirical study of religion, the journal typically publishes research from disciplines such as: sociology, psychology, social psychology, political science, economics.

Methods & Analysis

2. In-depth interviews

3. Ethnographies

4. Case studies

5. Quantitative analysis

6. Qualitative analysis

7. Content analysis

8. Mixed methods analysis

  • Clarivate Analytics: Social Science Citation Index (SSCI)

Manuscript Submission Guidelines: Review of Religious Research

This Journal is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics .

This Journal recommends that authors follow the Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals formulated by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE).

Please read the guidelines below then visit the Journal’s submission site https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/rrr to upload your manuscript. Please note that manuscripts not conforming to these guidelines may be returned.

Sage Publishing disseminates high-quality research and engaged scholarship globally, and we are committed to diversity and inclusion in publishing. We encourage submissions from a diverse range of authors from across all countries and backgrounds.

Only manuscripts of sufficient quality that meet the aims and scope of Review of Religious Research will be reviewed.

Publication fees

The submitted manuscript will be initially screened to see if it suitable for publication in the Review of Religious Research . The corresponding author will be contacted about the manuscript’s suitability.

If the manuscript is found to be suitable, a modest processing fee must be paid before the manuscript can be processed further, unless one of the authors is a member of the Religious Research Association (RRA). The processing fee includes a 1-year annual membership in the RRA.

By submitting the manuscript, the authors agree to pay the processing fee.

To pay the submission fee and become a member, visit the RRA website .

Also see section 5.2 below, Information Required for Submitting your Manuscript.

Originality

As part of the submission process you will be required to warrant that you are submitting your original work, that you have the rights in the work, and that you have obtained and can supply all necessary permissions for the reproduction of any copyright works not owned by you, that you are submitting the work for first publication in the Journal and that it is not being considered for publication elsewhere and has not already been published elsewhere. Please see our guidelines on prior publication and note that Review of Religious Research will consider submissions of papers that have been posted on preprint servers; please alert the Editorial Office when submitting (contact details are at the end of these guidelines) and include the DOI for the preprint in the designated field in the manuscript submission system. Authors should not post an updated version of their paper on the preprint server while it is being peer reviewed for possible publication in the Journal. If the article is accepted for publication, the author may re-use their work according to the Journal's author archiving policy.

If your paper is accepted, you must include a link on your preprint to the final version of your paper.

If you have any questions about publishing with Sage, please visit the Sage Journal Solutions Portal .

  • What do we publish? 1.1 Aims & Scope 1.2 Article types 1.3 Writing your paper
  • Editorial policies 2.1 Peer review policy 2.2 Authorship 2.3 Acknowledgements 2.4 Funding 2.5 Declaration of conflicting interests 2.6 Research ethics and patient consent 2.7 Reporting guidelines 2.8 Research data
  • Publishing policies 3.1 Publication ethics 3.2 Contributor’s publishing agreement 3.3 Open access and author archiving
  • Preparing your manuscript 4.1 Formatting 4.2 Artwork, figures and other graphics 4.3 Identifiable information 4.4 Supplemental material 4.5 Reference style 4.6 English language editing services
  • Submitting your manuscript 5.1 ORCID 5.2 Information required for completing your submission 5.3 Permissions
  • On acceptance and publication 6.1 Sage Production 6.2 Online First publication 6.3 Access to your published article 6.4 Promoting your article
  • Further information 7.1 Appealing the publication decision

1. What do we publish?

1.1 Aims & Scope

Before submitting your manuscript to Review of Religious Research , please ensure you have read the Aims & Scope [ https://rraweb.org/journal-review-of-religious-research/aims-and-scope/] .

1.2 Article types

Original Research Articles

Original research articles present scholarly and methodologically rigorous empirical analysis. Sections: Introduction, Literature Review (typically labeled by topical headings), Data and Methods, Results, Discussion (including limitations, implications, conclusions). Before submitting a manuscript, authors should read the journal’s Aims & Scope for more information. Maximum 10,000 words, 40 double-spaced manuscript pages, including references.

Research Notes

Research notes are similar to original research articles in presenting scholarly and methodologically rigorous empirical analysis. Notes are briefer than articles and typically provide less theoretical framing and literature reviewing than articles. The focus is on the study design and results. Sections: Introduction, Data and Methods, Results, Discussion (including limitations). Maximum 7,500 words, 30 double-spaced pages, including references.

Review Articles

Review articles provide a comprehensive summary of relevant existing studies, including a synthesis of their relevant theory, methods, and findings on topic(s) of interest to the journal (see Aims & Scope). Sections: Introduction, Background, Data and Methods (describe sources, inclusion and exclusion criteria), Results, Discussion (limitations, implications, conclusions). Maximum 10,000 words, 40 double-spaced pages, including references.

Applied Research Abstracts

Applied research abstracts briefly present the results of an applied study. Sections: Background, Purpose, Methods, Results, Conclusions, and Implications. Applied abstracts are 350-550 words and should include a footnote explaining to readers how to access the report, data, or additional information on the study.

Contexts of Religious Research

Contexts include award announcements, memoriams, commentaries about the process of conducting research (e.g., applications of research methods to topics relevant to the journal), profiles of denominational research organizations, or invited addresses from the Religious Research Association. It is rare that a manuscript of this type would be unsolicited; authors should consult the editor before submitting this type of manuscript. Max 1,000 words.

Book Reviews

Book reviews provide a summary of a scholarly book that identifies the purpose and central themes, highlights important claims or contributions, and offers critical evaluation of thetheories, methods, approach, or limitations (about 800 words). If you would like to review a book for the journal, contact the Book Review Editor, David Eagle, PhD [email protected]

1.3 Writing your paper

The Sage Author Gateway has some general advice and on  how to get published , plus links to further resources. Sage Author Services also offers authors a variety of ways to improve and enhance their article including English language editing, plagiarism detection, and video abstract and infographic preparation.

1.3.1 Make your article discoverable

For information and guidance on how to make your article more discoverable, visit our Gateway page on How to Help Readers Find Your Article Online .

Back to top

2. Editorial policies

2.1 Peer review policy

Review of Religious Research is a refereed journal with an anonymized peer review policy.

Review of Religious Research adheres to an anonymized peer review process in which the reviewer’s name is routinely withheld from the author unless the reviewer requests a preference for their identity to be revealed.

Sage does not permit the use of author-suggested (recommended) reviewers at any stage of the submission process, be that through the web-based submission system or other communication. Reviewers should be experts in their fields and should be able to provide an objective assessment of the manuscript. Our policy is that reviewers should not be assigned to a paper if:

  • The reviewer is based at the same institution as any of the co-authors.
  • The reviewer is based at the funding body of the paper.
  • The author has recommended the reviewer.
  • The reviewer has provided a personal (e.g. Gmail/Yahoo/Hotmail) email account and an institutional email account cannot be found after performing a basic Google search (name, department and institution).

The Editor or members of the Editorial Board may occasionally submit their own manuscripts for possible publication in the Journal. In these cases, the peer review process will be managed by alternative members of the Board and the submitting Editor/Board member will have no involvement in the decision-making process.

2.2 Authorship

All parties who have made a substantive contribution to the article should be listed as authors. Principal authorship, authorship order, and other publication credits should be based on the relative scientific or professional contributions of the individuals involved, regardless of their status. A student is usually listed as principal author on any multiple-authored publication that substantially derives from the student’s dissertation or thesis.

          Please note that AI chatbots, for example ChatGPT, should not be listed as authors. For more information see the policy on Use of ChatGPT and generative AI tools .

2.3 Acknowledgements

All contributors who do not meet the criteria for authorship should be listed in an Acknowledgements section. Examples of those who might be acknowledged include a person who provided purely technical help, or a department chair who provided only general support.

Please supply any personal acknowledgements separately to the main text to facilitate anonymous peer review.

Per ICMJE recommendations , it is best practice to obtain consent from non-author contributors who you are acknowledging in your paper.

2.3.1 Third party submissions Where an individual who is not listed as an author submits a manuscript on behalf of the author(s), a statement must be included in the Acknowledgements section of the manuscript and in the accompanying cover letter. The statements must:

  • Disclose this type of editorial assistance – including the individual’s name, company and level of input
  • Identify any entities that paid for this assistance
  • Confirm that the listed authors have authorized the submission of their manuscript via third party and approved any statements or declarations, e.g. conflicting interests, funding, etc.

Where appropriate, Sage reserves the right to deny consideration to manuscripts submitted by a third party rather than by the authors themselves.

2.3.2 Writing assistance

Individuals who provided writing assistance, e.g. from a specialist communications company, do not qualify as authors and so should be included in the Acknowledgements section. Authors must disclose any writing assistance – including the individual’s name, company and level of input – and identify the entity that paid for this assistance. It is not necessary to disclose use of language polishing services.

2.4 Funding

Review of Religious Research requires all authors to acknowledge their funding in a consistent fashion under a separate heading.  Please visit the Funding Acknowledgements page on the Sage Journal Author Gateway to confirm the format of the acknowledgment text in the event of funding, or state that: This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors. 

2.5 Declaration of conflicting interests

Review of Religious Research encourages authors to include a declaration of any conflicting interests and recommends you review the good practice guidelines on the Sage Journal Author Gateway .

2.6 Research ethics and patient consent

Submitted manuscripts should conform to the ICMJE Recommendations for the Conduct, Reporting, Editing, and Publication of Scholarly Work in Medical Journals , and all papers reporting animal and/or human studies must state in the methods section that the relevant ethics committee or institutional review board provided (or waived) approval. Please ensure that you have provided the full name and institution of the review committee, in addition to the approval number.

For research articles, authors are also required to state in the methods section whether participants provided informed consent and whether the consent was written or verbal.

Information on informed consent to report individual cases or case series should be included in the manuscript text.

Please also refer to the ICMJE Recommendations for the Protection of Research Participants .

2.7 Reporting guidelines

The relevant EQUATOR Network reporting guidelines should be followed depending on the type of study. For example, all randomized controlled trials submitted for publication should include a completed CONSORT flow chart as a cited figure and the completed CONSORT checklist should be uploaded with your submission as a supplementary file. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses should include the completed PRISMA flow chart as a cited figure and the completed PRISMA checklist should be uploaded with your submission as a supplementary file. The EQUATOR wizard can help you identify the appropriate guideline.

Other resources can be found at NLM’s Research Reporting Guidelines and Initiatives .

2.8 Research data

The Journal is committed to facilitating openness, transparency and reproducibility of research, and has the following research data sharing policy. For more information, including FAQs please visit the Sage Research Data policy pages .

Subject to appropriate ethical and legal considerations, authors are encouraged to:

  • Share your research data in a relevant public data repository
  • Include a data availability statement. This should:
  • Indicate if data is available and shared
  • In certain cases, indicate if research data is available but not shared, and why. For example, if the data are drawn from qualitative, in-depth interviews that cannot be de-identified, please provide this explanation in the data availability statement. Or, if the data are available upon request, please describe this in the data availability statement.
  • Cite data in your research

3. Publishing policies

3.1 Publication ethics

Sage is committed to upholding the integrity of the academic record. We encourage authors to refer to the Committee on Publication Ethics’ International Standards for Authors and view the Publication Ethics page on the Sage Author Gateway .

3.1.1 Plagiarism

Review of Religious Research and Sage take issues of copyright infringement, plagiarism or other breaches of best practice in publication very seriously. We seek to protect the rights of our authors and we always investigate claims of plagiarism or misuse of published articles. Equally, we seek to protect the reputation of the Journal against malpractice. Submitted articles may be checked with duplication-checking software. Where an article, for example, is found to have plagiarized other work or included third-party copyright material without permission or with insufficient acknowledgement, or where the authorship of the article is contested, we reserve the right to take action including, but not limited to: publishing an erratum or corrigendum (correction); retracting the article; taking up the matter with the head of department or dean of the author's institution and/or relevant academic bodies or societies; or taking appropriate legal action.

3.1.2 Prior publication

If material has been previously published it is not generally acceptable for publication in a Sage journal. However, there are certain circumstances where previously published material can be considered for publication. Please refer to the guidance on the Sage Author Gateway or if in doubt, contact the Editor at the address given below.

3.2 Contributor’s publishing agreement

Before publication, Sage requires the author as the rights holder to sign a Journal Contributor’s Publishing Agreement. Sage’s Journal Contributor’s Publishing Agreement is an exclusive licence agreement which means that the author retains copyright in the work but grants Sage the sole and exclusive right and licence to publish for the full legal term of copyright. Exceptions may exist where an assignment of copyright is required or preferred by a proprietor other than Sage. In this case copyright in the work will be assigned from the author to the society. For more information, please visit the Sage Author Gateway .

3.3 Open access and author archiving

Review of Religious Research offers optional open access publishing via the Sage Choice programme and Open Access agreements, where authors can publish open access either discounted or free of charge depending on the agreement with Sage. Find out if your institution is participating by visiting Open Access Agreements at Sage . For more information on Open Access publishing options at Sage please visit Sage Open Access . For information on funding body compliance, and depositing your article in repositories, please visit Sage’s Author Archiving and Re-Use Guidelines and Publishing Policies .

4. Preparing your manuscript

4.1 Formatting

The preferred format for your manuscript is Word.

4.2 Artwork, figures and other graphics

For guidance on the preparation of illustrations, pictures and graphs in electronic format, please visit Sage’s Manuscript Submission Guidelines .

4.3 Identifiable information

Where a journal uses double-anonymised peer review, authors are required to submit:

  • A version of the manuscript which has had any information that compromises the anonymity of the author(s) removed or anonymized. This version will be sent to the peer reviewers.
  • A separate title page which includes any removed or anonymised material. This will not be sent to the peer reviewers.

See https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/Manuscript-preparation-for-double-anonymized-journal for detailed guidance on making an anonymous submission.

Figures supplied in colour will appear in colour online regardless of whether or not these illustrations are reproduced in colour in the printed version. For specifically requested colour reproduction in print, you will receive information regarding the costs from Sage after receipt of your accepted article.

4.4 Supplemental material

This Journal is able to host additional materials online (e.g. datasets, podcasts, videos, images etc.) alongside the full-text of the article. For more information please refer to our guidelines on submitting supplemental files .

4.5 Reference style

Review of Religious Research adheres to the ASA Style Guide. View the guide here to ensure your manuscript conforms to this style.

If you use EndNote to manage references, you can download the ASA output file . If you use Zotero to manage references, you can download the ASA Style Repository .

4.6 English language editing services

Authors seeking assistance with English language editing, translation, or figure and manuscript formatting to fit the Journal’s specifications should consider using Sage Language Services. Visit Sage Language Services on our Journal Author Gateway for further information.

5. Submitting your manuscript

Review of Religious Research is hosted on Sage Track, a web based online submission and peer review system powered by ScholarOne™ Manuscripts. Visit https://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/rrr to login and submit your article online.

IMPORTANT : Please check whether you already have an account in the system before trying to create a new one. If you have reviewed or authored for the Journal in the past year it is likely that you will have had an account created.  For further guidance on submitting your manuscript online please visit ScholarOne Online Help .

As part of our commitment to ensuring an ethical, transparent and fair peer review process Sage is a supporting member of ORCID, the Open Researcher and Contributor ID . ORCID provides a unique and persistent digital identifier that distinguishes researchers from every other researcher, even those who share the same name, and, through integration in key research workflows such as manuscript and grant submission, supports automated linkages between researchers and their professional activities, ensuring that their work is recognized.

The collection of ORCID iDs from corresponding authors is now part of the submission process of this journal. If you already have an ORCID iD you will be asked to associate that to your submission during the online submission process. We also strongly encourage all co-authors to link their ORCID ID to their accounts in our online peer review platforms. It takes seconds to do: click the link when prompted, sign into your ORCID account and our systems are automatically updated. Your ORCID iD will become part of your accepted publication’s metadata, making your work attributable to you and only you. Your ORCID iD is published with your article so that fellow researchers reading your work can link to your ORCID profile and from there link to your other publications.

If you do not already have an ORCID ID please follow this link to create one or visit our ORCID homepage to learn more.

5.2 Information required for completing your submission

Cover Letter

The Cover Letter must contain the following information (No other information should be included in the letter.):

(1) A statement confirming that all the authors have read the final version of the manuscript and agreed to submit it to Review of Religious Research . (Do not submit your manuscript unless this is true.)

(2) A statement confirming that the manuscript has not been published previously and that it is not currently being reviewed for publication by another journal. (Do not submit your manuscript unless this is true.)

(3) A statement explaining how the manuscript fits into one or more of the topical areas listed in the journal’s Aims & Scope. This statement should also briefly identify at least one of the empirical research methods and analysis listed in the Aims & Scope, or specify an additional empirical method or analysis that is not listed.

(4) The full name, institution, and email address of at least one author of the manuscript who is currently a member of the Religious Research Association, OR; A statement acknowledging the authors agree to pay the fee for the manuscript to be peer-reviewed (if it is initially assessed to be potentially suitable for publication), if no author of the manuscript is a member of the Religious Research Association. See the Fee section below for more details. The waiver of the fee only applies to manuscripts that are authored or co-authored by a member of the Religious Research Association. The fee will not be waived for any other reason.

Sample Letter 1

Dear Editor:

All the authors have read the final version of the manuscript and agreed to submit it to Review of Religious Research . The manuscript has not been published previously, and it is not currently being reviewed for publication by another journal.

The authors think the manuscript fits within the topical areas of Religious Leaders and Religion & Civics because it investigates the ways that people in faith-based organizations draw upon religious language in volunteer recruitment efforts. This is an empirical research study that utilized surveys to collect data for the quantitative analysis and in-depth interviews to inform the qualitative analysis.

[Name of Corresponding Author] of the [Affiliated University or Organization] ( [email protected] ) is the corresponding author of the manuscript and a current member of the Religious Research Association.

[Name of Corresponding Author]

Sample Letter 2

The authors think the manuscript fits within the topic area of Religious Beliefs because it reviews how scholars attend to Muslim, Christian, and Jewish religious texts in published research. Although the manuscript does not appear to fit into any of the methods listed in the Aims & Scope, the authors think the manuscript is consistent with the Aims & Scope because the study employs bibliometric techniques to inform a quantitative and qualitative analysis of existing publications.

As none of the authors currently belong to the Religious Research Association, [Name of Corresponding Author] agrees to pay the fee for the manuscript to be peer-reviewed if it is initially assessed to be potentially suitable for publication via the Religious Research Association website (payment will be confirmed with the RRA before proceeding with peer review).

Affiliations

You will be asked to provide contact details and academic affiliations for all co-authors via the submission system and identify who is to be the corresponding author. These details must match what appears on your manuscript. The affiliation listed in the manuscript should be the institution where the research was conducted. If an author has moved to a new institution since completing the research, the new affiliation can be included in a manuscript note at the end of the paper. At this stage please ensure you have included all the required statements and declarations and uploaded any additional supplementary files (including reporting guidelines where relevant).

The title page should include:

  • The name(s) of the author(s)
  • A concise and informative title
  • The affiliation(s) of the author(s), i.e. institution, (department), city, (state), country
  • A clear indication and an active e-mail address of the corresponding author
  • If available, the 16-digit ORCID of the author(s)
  • If address information is provided with the affiliation(s) it will also be published.
  • For authors that are (temporarily) unaffiliated we will only capture their city and country of residence, not their e-mail address unless specifically requested.

Abstract  (150-200 words)

Abstracts should further describe the contents of the manuscript. Begin the abstract by stating the central purpose or aim of the paper. Next, describe the objective and approach of this particular study. The majority of the abstract should summarize the methodological design. Name whether the data were collected through a survey, interview, experiment, ethnography, or other mode. Provide an overview of the sample size and characteristics. It is common to use the notation n=x to indicate the sample (n) equals size (x). Specify that the analysis techniques were quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, or some other type. Briefly state the primary results. Interpret the contributions for theory, research, and/or practice. The readership of RRR is particularly interested in applications for practice, especially for the practitioner sets in the  Aims & Scope .

Please also clearly identify in the abstract the religious group(s) that was studied, the relevant topic(s) from the journal Aims & Scope, and the country(ies) in which the data were collected. If relevant, please indicate for which set(s) of applied practitioners the study has implications.

Please provide 4 to 6 keywords which can be used for indexing purposes. At least one of the keywords must be selected from the topics list in the Aims & Scope.

5.3 Permissions

Please also ensure that you have obtained any necessary permission from copyright holders for reproducing any illustrations, tables, figures or lengthy quotations previously published elsewhere. For further information including guidance on fair dealing for criticism and review, please see the Copyright and Permissions page on the Sage Author Gateway .

6. On acceptance and publication

6.1 Sage Production

Your Sage Production Editor will keep you informed as to your article’s progress throughout the production process. Proofs will be made available to the corresponding author via our editing portal Sage Edit or by email, and corrections should be made directly or notified to us promptly. Authors are reminded to check their proofs carefully to confirm that all author information, including names, affiliations, sequence and contact details are correct, and that Funding and Conflict of Interest statements, if any, are accurate.

6.2 Online First publication

Online First allows final articles (completed and approved articles awaiting assignment to a future issue) to be published online prior to their inclusion in a journal issue, which significantly reduces the lead time between submission and publication. Visit the Sage Journals help page for more details, including how to cite Online First articles.

6.3 Access to your published article

Sage provides authors with online access to their final article.

6.4 Promoting your article

Publication is not the end of the process! You can help disseminate your paper and ensure it is as widely read and cited as possible. The Sage Author Gateway has numerous resources to help you promote your work. Visit the Promote Your Article page on the Gateway for tips and advice.

7. Further information

Any correspondence, queries or additional requests for information on the manuscript submission process should be sent to the Review of Religious Research editorial office as follows:

Patricia Snell Herzog, PhD [email protected]

7.1 Appealing the publication decision

Editors have very broad discretion in determining whether an article is an appropriate fit for their journal. Many manuscripts are declined with a very general statement of the rejection decision. These decisions are not eligible for formal appeal unless the author believes the decision to reject the manuscript was based on an error in the review of the article, in which case the author may appeal the decision by providing the Editor with a detailed written description of the error they believe occurred.

If an author believes the decision regarding their manuscript was affected by a publication ethics breach, the author may contact the publisher with a detailed written description of their concern, and information supporting the concern, at [email protected] .

  • Read Online
  • Sample Issues
  • Current Issue
  • Email Alert
  • Permissions
  • Foreign rights
  • Reprints and sponsorship
  • Advertising

Subscription Information

To subscribe to this journal or to purchase single/back issues, please contact Customer Service - Journals: [email protected]   +91 (11) 4063 9222 extn 406

To purchase bundled content, backfiles or any other electronic products, please contact: [email protected]

For exciting offers and deals, write to: [email protected]

IMAGES

  1. Review of Religious Research Referencing Guide · Review of Religious

    review of religious research

  2. (PDF) Introduction to Religious Studies

    review of religious research

  3. (PDF) ‘Religion and Environmental Issues Within Anglo-American

    review of religious research

  4. (PDF) To Conscience First, and to the Pope (Long) Afterwards? British

    review of religious research

  5. (PDF) Review of Religious Research

    review of religious research

  6. 210 Religious Research Paper Topics That Will Boost Your Scores

    review of religious research

VIDEO

  1. Religious Research #4biddenknowledge #anunnaki #christianity #islam #religion

  2. Discussion question 6: Does studying RE in school helps you learn about and express your own faith?

  3. 14) Ardent desire to receive the Body of Christ (The imitation of Christ, Book 4)

  4. The Rise of the Non Religious Leaders #christian #christianity #love #bible #jesus

  5. 1) Imitation of Christ and worldly vanities (The imitation of Christ, Book 1)

  6. Miracle Full Movie Facts & Review in English / Kurt Russell / Patricia Clarkson

COMMENTS

  1. Review of Religious Research: Sage Journals

    The Review of Religious Research (RRR) journal aims to publish manuscripts meeting these six scope criteria: (1) reports empirical research; (2) attends to religiosity and spirituality topics; (3) identifies religious groups and their adherents; (4) engages in interdisciplinary social science research practices; (5) describes methods and ...

  2. Volumes and issues

    Review of Religious Research is the official journal of the Religious Research Association. It publishes articles on various topics related to religion, such as theory, method, and empirical research.

  3. Review of Religious Research

    The Review of Religious Research is published four times a year (September, December, March and June). The journal seeks to provide a regular channel for the exchange of information on methods, findings and uses of religious research. It contains a variety of articles, book reviews and reports on research projects. Journal information.

  4. Review of Religious Research

    Review of Religious Research publishes empirical studies on religion in sociology, social psychology and psychology. It covers topics such as new religious movements, denominational growth, religious experience, religion and politics, and more.

  5. Review of Religious Research

    The Review of Religious Research is a quarterly journal that reviews the various methods, findings and uses of religious research. It contains a variety of articles, book reviews and reports on research projects. It is published by the Religious Research Association and was founded in 1959.

  6. Editorial

    The Editor-in-Chief of Review of Religious Research, Kevin J. Flannelly, thanks the previous Editor, Adair T. Lummis, and introduces some changes to the journal. He also invites manuscripts from religious researchers and provides links to the journal's Aims & Scope and Instructions for Authors.

  7. Review of Religious Research

    Review of Religious Research is published four times a year. Publication programme 2017 (Volume 59,4 issues). Subscriptions should be sent to Springer Customer Service Journals, Tiergartenstr. 15,69121 Heidelberg, Germany, or at 233 Spring Street, New York, NY 10013-1578, U.S.A., or to any subscription agent.

  8. Review of Religious Research

    Review of Religious Research is a quarterly journal that publishes empirical social science research on religion and scholarly literature reviews. It covers topics such as clergy, denominations, ethnicity, family, gender, religion and well-being, and research methodology.

  9. Call for Papers

    The Review of Religious Research (RRR) journal publishes empirical social-science research and provides a forum for research across multiple disciplines and approaches. The topics, religious groups, disciplinary approaches, methods, and types of analysis are detailed further in the Aims & Scope. The RRR welcomes manuscripts of the following types.

  10. Information for Authors

    The Review of Religious Research (RRR) journal aims to publish manuscripts meeting these six scope criteria: (1) reports empirical research; (2) attends to religiosity and spirituality topics; (3) identifies religious groups and their adherents; (4) engages in interdisciplinary social science research practices; (5) describes methods and analytical techniques; and (6) applies research with ...

  11. Journal: Review of Religious Research

    The Review of Religious Research is published four times a year (September, December, March and June). The journal seeks to provide a regular channel for the exchange of information on methods, findings and uses of religious research. It contains a variety of articles, book reviews and reports on research projects. More information is on Sage ...

  12. How religious scientists balance work and faith

    How religious scientists balance work and faith. Researchers find ways to interweave faith and science, from discussing Ramadan fasts with colleagues to applying religious parables to lab work. In ...

  13. Review of Religious Research

    Ad. 0.0083458423614502. Open data-based citation metrics about Review of Religious Research, but also research trends, citation patterns, altmetric scores, similar journals and impact factors.

  14. Review of Religious Research

    Review of Religious Research is organized to address concerns in the fields of Social psychology, Sociology of religion, Religious studies, Gender studies and Religiosity. It addresses concerns in Social psychology which are intertwined with other disciplines, such as Protestantism and Attendance. The Sociology of religion works featured in the ...

  15. Formation Fit for Purpose: Empowering Religious Educators ...

    The purpose of this paper is to provide curriculum support to religious educators working in Catholic schools. The paper provides a practical response to research advocating serious attention be given to religious educators because they are at the "coalface" of Catholic education, increasingly confronted by content and policy decisions, the diverse values and needs of their students, and ...

  16. The Original Vision: Edward Robinson and the Spiritual Life of Children

    The Religious Experience Research Unit. Edward Robinson, the younger brother of the controversial English bishop, John A. T. Robinson, was an English educator, botanist, sculptor, and researcher. ... It is unfortunate that aside from several reviews and scattered mention in few articles, The Original Vision has faded into obscurity. A study ...

  17. Are religious people happier? The science is pretty clear

    A lot, it turns out. The literature on health in general and religion is vast. An Oxford University Press book summarizing the research on the subject, for example, comes in at almost 900 pages ...

  18. Journal of Islam and Social Sciences; No. 30

    Hence, the fundamental, developmental and applied research in the field of social sciences and its relations with religion, and the review of the existing schools in this field, are the major goals and missions of the "semi-annual Journal of Islam and Social Sciences."

  19. Children's Literature Portraying Religious Diversity in the US

    Religion, a part of our multicultural landscape, is often avoided and considered uncomfortable or too controversial to teach. The books highlighted in this guide, Children's Literature Portraying Religious Diversity, were specifically chosen as quality books that focus on authentic expressions of religious diversity for children grades K-4.

  20. Enhancing oncology research through data sharing and re-use: A five

    e13670 Background: The last decade has seen a paradigm shift in clinical research with the accessibility of trial data, facilitating secondary analyses and the development of novel predictive models. Vivli a non-profit entity established in 2018, epitomizes this movement with its global platform (vivli.org) dedicated to the facilitating access to and re-use of individual participant data from ...

  21. Review of Religious Research

    Second-class postage at Washington, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address. Review of Religious Research, 108 Marist Hall, Catholic. America, Washington, DC 20064. 3. Membership in the Association includes all issues of the. reviews of manuscripts submitted to the Review for publication.

  22. Why Wirecutter Tests the Same Product for Years on End

    Christina Colizza is an editor covering sleep. She loves testing health products, like sports bras and foot spas, and hitting snooze on her alarm. If you're a Wirecutter devotee, you may have ...

  23. Ethical perspectives regarding Euthanasia, including in the context of

    Introduction Previous research has explored euthanasia's ethical dimensions, primarily focusing on general practice and, to a lesser extent, psychiatry, mainly from the viewpoints of physicians and nurses. However, a gap exists in understanding the comprehensive value-based perspectives of other professionals involved in both somatic and psychiatric euthanasia. This paper aims to analyze the ...

  24. Review of Religious Research

    2.1 Peer review policy. Review of Religious Research is a refereed journal with an anonymized peer review policy. Review of Religious Research adheres to an anonymized peer review process in which the reviewer's name is routinely withheld from the author unless the reviewer requests a preference for their identity to be revealed.

  25. Review of Religious Research

    Review of Religious Research