Religious belief and belief in medicine have been on the rise across the West, according to a report from the medical research group Medical News International.
The report, released on Monday, said there was a worrying rise in the number of doctors prescribing medicine for religious reasons.
A total of 724 doctors have been registered with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (RCPS) in England since 2010.
It found that while doctors were more likely to be practising for religious beliefs, they were less likely to prescribe drugs for other reasons.
The RCPS also found that almost three-quarters of the respondents had heard of the practice of “medical tourism” whereby doctors visit overseas hospitals or clinics to prescribe medicines for patients.
“Many of these doctors have travelled overseas to perform medical procedures for patients who cannot afford them.
They have no way of knowing the full scope of their work and the quality of care they are providing,” the report said.
“They are often doing very poor and often dangerous work.”
The report also said there were many cases of doctors performing “false-positive” tests for “non-serious” conditions.
“For example, the practice was used to help doctors to diagnose conditions that were not even present in patients, but which are, for example, inoperable, or in need of further treatment,” it said.
The number of people who had “medical-tourism” recorded as a possible cause of death rose by 22% in the five years to 2010, it added.
One in 10 of the patients had “other” medical conditions, it said, although it did not elaborate on those.
The new report comes at a time when the NHS is facing criticism from a number of quarters, including from the Catholic Church.
In February, the British Medical Association criticised a new bill that would require doctors to undergo religious training before they can prescribe drugs.
The NHS said the changes were needed to combat a “medicalised culture”.
The RCPC also said that in the UK, more than 70% of the country’s doctors had a religious affiliation, with the number rising to more than 95% by 2020.