Although researchers have identified beneficial coping strategies for cancer patients, existing coping measures do not capture the preferred coping strategies of older African American cancer survivors. A new measure, the Ways of Helping Questionnaire (WHQ), was evaluated with 385 African American cancer survivors. Validity evidence from factor analysis resulted in 10 WHQ subscales (Others There for Me, Physical and Treatment Care Needs, Help from God, Church Family Support, Helping Others, Being Strong for Others, Encouraging My Healthy Behaviors, Others Distract Me, Learning about Cancer, and Distracting Myself). Reliability evidence was generally strong. Evidence regarding hypothesized relationships with measures of well-being and another coping measure was mixed. The WHQ’s content coverage makes it especially relevant for older African American cancer survivors.
coping; social support; African Americans; cancer; instrument development
This study examines the relationships among race, education, formal as well as informal involvement in the church, and God-mediated control. Formal involvement in the church was assessed by the frequency of attendance at worship services, Bible study groups, and prayer groups. Informal involvement was measured with an index of spiritual support provided by fellow church members. Data from a nationwide longitudinal survey of older people suggest that both formal and informal church involvement tend to sustain feelings of God-mediated control over time. The findings further reveal that compared to older whites, older African Americans are more likely to have stronger feelings of God-mediated control at the baseline survey and older blacks are more likely to sustain their sense of God-mediated control over time. In contrast, the data suggest that education is not significantly related to feelings of God-mediated control.
Spirituality plays an important role in cancer coping among African Americans. The purpose of this study was to report on the initial psychometric properties of instruments specific to the cancer context, assessing the role of spirituality in coping. Items were developed based on a theoretical model of spirituality and qualitative patient interviews. The instruments reflected connections to self, others, God, and the world. One hundred African American cancer survivors completed the instruments by telephone. The instruments showed adequate internal reliability, mixed convergent validity, discriminant validity, and interpretable factor structures.
Spirituality; Cancer coping; Quality of life; African American; Instrument development
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the meaning and use of spirituality among African American (AA), predominantly Christian women with HIV. A nonrandom sample of 20 AA women from a large infectious disease clinic in Metro-Atlanta participated in the study. The study used focus groups and individual interviews to interview women about their lived spiritual experience. Content analysis and NUDIST software were used to analyze transcripts. The findings revealed the spiritual views and practices of AA women with HIV. The following themes (and subthemes) emerged: Spirituality is a process/journey or connection (connection to God, higher power, or spirit and HIV brought me closer to God), spiritual expression (religion/church attendance, prayer, helping others, having faith), and spiritual benefits (health/healing, spiritual support, inner peace/strength/ability to keep going, and here for a reason or purpose/a second chance). Findings highlight the importance of spirituality in health and well-being among AA women with HIV/AIDS.
focus groups; methods; qualitative methods; immune clinical focus; spirituality; health behavior/symptom focus; Black population focus; HIV/AIDS
This study examined spiritual coping (beliefs and practices) of depressed African American cancer patients through a comparison with depressed White cancer patients and non-depressed African American cancer patients.
Using mixed methods, 74 breast (n=41) and prostate (n=33) cancer survivors including 34 depressed and 23 nondepressed African Americans and 17 depressed Whites were interviewed. The interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. Qualitative data analysis identified themes that were coded. The codes were entered into SPSS software. The Fisher’s exact test was performed to examine group differences in self-reported spiritual coping.
Significantly more depressed African Americans questioned God when learning of a cancer diagnosis than the non-depressed African Americans (p=.03), but they did not differ from the depressed Whites in this regard (p=.70). Significantly more depressed African Americans reported having faith in God (p=.04), reading the bible (p=.02), and conversing with God (p=.01) than did the depressed Whites. They also reported praying alone (p=.01) more frequently than the depressed Whites who, on the other hand, reported praying with others (non-family members) together for one’s own health more frequently (p=.04).
Depression is associated with a deepening need for spirituality and it affects religious beliefs and practices more in African American than White cancer patients. Given its important role in the lives of African American cancer patients, spirituality may be utilized as a reasonable, culturally-based approach to better assess and treat depression in these patients.
African American; cancer; depression; race; pray; religion; spirituality.
The topos of the Compassionate God is a dominant motive of the Jewish and Christian traditions. It is relevant for nursing because it asks the nurse to imitate God so as to become God-like. Also, to think that God suffers with the suffering believers is thought to give comfort to them. Because in the western world the topos of the Compassionate God represents the basis of the ethics of compassion/caring, this piece of basic research is important for clinical practice. This study explores to what extent Jewish and Christian nursing adhered to the biblical topos of the Compassionate God at different periods and in different cultural contexts.
A mixed methods approach was used. It included variations of hermeneutical text analysis as used in historical, philosophical, theological, science of religion, and nursing research.
The analysis of the literary sources shows that the topos of the Compassionate God was interpreted differently in different cultural contexts. However, at all times it directed religious and secular nursing. Since the beginning of the 21st century it builds the core of “compassionate caring” as propagated by North American nursing science.
The topos of the Compassionate God laid the foundation of the tradition of the ethics of compassion in nursing. More research is required to learn whether it also plays a role in Islamic nursing.
Compassion; Caring; Religious and secular nursing; Nursing ethics
Drawing broadly on insights from attachment theory, the present study outlines a series of theoretical arguments linking styles of attachment to God, perceptions of the nature of God (i.e., God imagery), and stressful life events with psychological distress. Main effects and potential stress-moderator effects are then evaluated using data from a nationwide sample of elders and rank-and-file members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Key findings indicate that secure attachment to God is inversely associated with distress, whereas both anxious attachment to God and stressful life events are positively related to distress. Once variations in patterns of attachment to God are controlled, there are no net effects of God imagery on levels of distress. There is only modest support for the hypothesis that God images moderate the effects of stressful life events on psychological distress, but no stress-moderator effects were found for attachment to God. Study limitations are identified, and findings are discussed in terms of their implications for religion-health research, as well as recent extensions of attachment theory.
Spirituality/religiosity is recognized as a resource to cope with burdening life events and chronic illness. However, less is known about the consequences of the lack of positive spiritual feelings. Spiritual dryness in clergy has been described as spiritual lethargy, a lack of vibrant spiritual encounter with God, and an absence of spiritual resources, such as spiritual renewal practices. To operationalize experiences of “spiritual dryness” in terms of a specific spiritual crisis, we have developed the “spiritual dryness scale” (SDS). Here, we describe the validation of the instrument which was applied among other standardized questionnaires in a sample of 425 Catholic priests who professionally care for the spiritual sake of others. Feelings of “spiritual dryness” were experienced occasionally by up to 40%, often or even regularly by up to 13%. These experiences can explain 44% of variance in daily spiritual experiences, 30% in depressive symptoms, 22% in perceived stress, 20% in emotional exhaustion, 19% in work engagement, and 21% of variance of ascribed importance of religious activity. The SDS-5 can be used as a specific measure of spiritual crisis with good reliability and validity in further studies.
A profound and moving spirituality provided emotional and psychological support for most terminally ill patients at Grady Memorial Hospital. The authors were able to trace the roots of these patients' spirituality to core beliefs described by African-American theologians. Truly bedrock beliefs often reflected in conversations with the patients at Grady included the providence of God and the divine plan for each person's life. Patients felt an intimate relationship to God, which they expressed through prayer. Importantly, almost all patients were willing to share their beliefs with the authors in long bedside interviews. This willingness to share indicates that physicians can learn about and validate such patients' spiritual sources of support.
spirituality; palliative care; patient-doctor communication
The first goal of this study is to see if social relationships in the church influence feelings of gratitude toward God. The second goal is to assess the impact of race and ethnicity on this relationship. The data support the following hypotheses: (1) older people who go to church more often tend to receive more spiritual support from fellow church members; (2) older adults who receive more spiritual support at church will derive a deeper understanding of themselves and others; (3) older people who develop greater insight into themselves and others will derive a greater sense of religious meaning in life; and (4) older adults who develop a deeper sense of religious meaning in life will feel more grateful to God. The results also indicate that the study model explains how feelings of gratitude toward God arise among older blacks and whites, but not older Mexican Americans.
Gratitude to God; race and ethnic; spiritual support
We examined spiritual/mind–body beliefs related to treatment decision-making and adherence in 79 HIV-positive people (35% female, 41% African American, 22% Latino, 24% White) who had been offered antiretroviral treatment by their physicians. Interviews (performed in 2003) identified spiritual/mind–body beliefs; the Adult AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) questionnaire assessed adherence and symptoms/side effects. Decision-making was influenced by health-related spiritual beliefs (e.g., calling on God/Higher Power for help/protection, God/Higher Power controls health) and mind–body beliefs (e.g., mind controls body, body tells when medication is needed). Participants believing God/Higher Power controls health were 4.75 times more likely to refuse, and participants with mind–body beliefs related to decision-making were 5.31 times more likely to defer antiretrovirals than those without those beliefs. Participants believing spirituality helps coping with side effects reported significantly better adherence and fewer symptoms/side effects. Fewer symptoms/side effects were significantly associated with the beliefs mind controls body, calling on God/Higher Power for help/protection, and spirituality helps adherence. Spiritual/mind–body beliefs as barriers or motivators to taking or adhering to treatment are important, since they may affect survival and quality of life of HIV-positive people.
Religious believers intuitively conceptualize deities as intentional agents with mental states who anticipate and respond to human beliefs, desires and concerns. It follows that mentalizing deficits, associated with the autistic spectrum and also commonly found in men more than in women, may undermine this intuitive support and reduce belief in a personal God. Autistic adolescents expressed less belief in God than did matched neuro-typical controls (Study 1). In a Canadian student sample (Study 2), and two American national samples that controlled for demographic characteristics and other correlates of autism and religiosity (Study 3 and 4), the autism spectrum predicted reduced belief in God, and mentalizing mediated this relationship. Systemizing (Studies 2 and 3) and two personality dimensions related to religious belief, Conscientiousness and Agreeableness (Study 3), failed as mediators. Mentalizing also explained the robust and well-known, but theoretically debated, gender gap in religious belief wherein men show reduced religious belief (Studies 2–4).
The purpose of the present study was to explore nurses’ perception about spirituality and spiritual care. A qualitative content analysis approach was conducted on 20 registered nurses interviewed using unstructured strategy in 2009. Three themes emerged from the data analysis: 1) “meaning and purpose of work and life” including ‘spiritualistic view to profession’, ‘commitment and professional responsibility’, and ‘positive attitude’; 2) “religious attitude” including ‘God approval’, ‘spiritual reward’, ‘taking advice’, ‘inner belief in the Supreme Being’, ‘faith-based interactions and altruism’; 3) “transcendence-seeking” including ‘need for respect’ and ‘personal–professional transcendence’. Therefore, the spirituality produces maintenance, harmony and balance in nurses in relation to God. Spiritual care focuses on respecting patients, friendly and sympathetic interactions, sharing in rituals and strengthening patients and nurses’ inner energy.
This type of spirituality gives a positive perspective to life and profession, peaceful interactions, a harmonious state of mind, and acts as a motivator among nurses to promote nursing care and spirituality.
Evaluation; Content analysis; Nurses’ spirituality; Spiritual care; Nurses’ lifestyle
The purpose of this study was to evaluate a conceptual model that assesses whether praying to the saints or the Virgin is associated with the health of older Mexican Americans. A survey was conducted of 1,005 older Mexican Americans (Mean age = 73.9 years; SD = 6.6 years). Data from 795 of the Catholic respondents are presented in this study. The findings support the following relationships that are embedded in the conceptual model: (1) older Mexican Americans who attend church more often are more likely to believe in the efficacy of prayer to the saints or the Virgin; (2) stronger beliefs in the efficacy of intercessory prayer are associated with more frequent prayer to the saints or the Virgin; (3) frequent prayer is to the saints or the Virgin is associated with greater God-mediated control beliefs; (4) stronger God-mediated control beliefs are associated with greater optimism; and (5) greater optimism is associated with better self-rated health.
prayer; health; older Mexican Americans
To track within-individual change during late life in the sense of personal control and God-mediated control (the belief that one can work collaboratively with God to achieve one’s goals and exercise control over life events) and to evaluate the hypothesis that this element of religion is related to declining personal control.
A longitudinal survey representative of older White and Black adults in the United States tracked changes in personal and God-mediated control in four waves over the course of 7 years.
Growth curve analysis found that the pattern of change differed by race. White adults had less sense of God-mediated control at younger ages, which increased among those who were highly religious but decreased among those who were less religious. Black adults had higher God-mediated control, which increased over time among those with low personal control.
These results indicate that God-mediated control generally increases during older adulthood, but that its relationships with personal control and religious commitment are complex and differ between Black and White adults.
Growth curve analysis; Religion; Sense of control.; Growth curve analysis; Growth curve analysis
This study has two principal aims. The first goal is to empirically evaluate new measures of close companion friendships that arise in church. The second goal is to embed these measures in a conceptual model that seeks to assess the relationship between close companion friends at church and health. Based on data from a nationwide sample of older people, the findings reveal that the newly devised measures are psychometrically sound. In addition, the results provide empirical support for the following linkages that are contained in our conceptual model: older people who have a close companion friend at church are more likely to feel they belong in their congregation; old adults who believe they belong in their congregation are more likely to feel grateful to God; and older individuals who feel grateful to God tend to rate their health more favorably.
Religious beliefs often persist among unaffiliated young adults, and certain beliefs about God have been shown to support subjective well-being. Yet we know much less about the persistence or psychological impact of religious experiences, specifically miracles from God. I conceive of such experiences as faith pinnacle moments which express and reinvigorate the individual's reciprocal bond with God, frequently occur in response to certain types of stress, and support well-being by solidifying one's sense of that bond. My results show that net of institutional religiosity, young adults who experience stress from traumas are more likely to report miracles. This suggests that these reports often refer to healings or similar interventions. Stress from family breakups, however, is negatively correlated with miracles, presumably since these disruptions damage the bond with God due to the established connection between parental relationships and perceived relationship with God. Finally, miracles are positively correlated with life satisfaction and partially protect against the negative effects of stress on life satisfaction.
personal religiosity; adolescences; religious experiences; coping; stress; beliefs; life satisfaction; subjective well-being
To explore the impact of spirituality and religious beliefs on FAmily CEntered (FACE) Advance Care Planning and medication adherence in HIV+ adolescents and their surrogate decision-makers.
A sample of HIV+ adolescents (n=40) and their surrogates, age 21 or older, (n=40) was randomized to an active Healthy Living Control group or the FACE Advance Care Planning intervention, guided by transactional stress and coping theory. Adolescents’ spirituality was assessed at baseline and 3 months post-intervention, using the FACIT-SP-4-EX, as was the belief that HIV is a punishment from God.
Control adolescents increased faith and meaning/purpose more so than FACE adolescents (p=0.02). At baseline more behaviorally (16%) vs. perinatally (8%) infected adolescents believed HIV was a punishment from God, but not at 3-months post-intervention. Adolescents endorsing HIV was a punishment scored lower on spirituality (p=.05) and adherence to HAART (p= .04). Surrogates were more spiritual than adolescents (p=<.0001).
Providing family support in a friendly, facilitated, environment enhanced adolescents’ spirituality. Facilitated family conversations had an especially positive effect on behaviorally infected adolescents’ medication adherence and spiritual beliefs.
adolescents; advance care planning; family intervention; HIV/AIDS; medication adherence; pediatric end-of-life care; pediatric palliative care; spirituality
For patients confronting a life-threatening illness such as advanced cancer, religious coping can be an important factor influencing their quality of life (QOL).
The study's main purpose was to examine the association between religious coping and QOL among 170 patients with advanced cancer. Both positive religious coping (e.g., benevolent religious appraisals) and negative religious coping (e.g., anger at God) and multiple dimensions of QOL (physical, physical symptom, psychological, existential, and support) were studied.
Structured interviews were conducted with 170 patients recruited as part of an ongoing multi-institutional longitudinal evaluation of the prevalence of mental illness and patterns of mental health service utilization in advanced cancer patients and their primary informal caregivers.
Patients completed measures of QOL (McGill QOL questionnaire), religious coping (Brief Measure of Religious Coping [RCOPE] and Multidimensional Measure of Religion/Spirituality), self-efficacy (General Self-Efficacy Scale), and sociodemographic variables.
Linear regression analyses revealed that after controlling for sociodemographic variables, lifetime history of depression and self-efficacy, greater use of positive religious coping was associated with better overall QOL as well as higher scores on the existential and support QOL dimensions. Greater use of positive religious coping was also related to more physical symptoms. In contrast, greater use of negative religious coping was related to poorer overall QOL and lower scores on the existential and psychological QOL dimensions.
Findings show that religious coping plays an important role for the QOL of patients and the types of religious coping strategies used are related to better or poorer QOL.
We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate how performing formalized and improvised forms of praying changed the evoked BOLD response in a group of Danish Christians. Distinct from formalized praying and secular controls, improvised praying activated a strong response in the temporopolar region, the medial prefrontal cortex, the temporo-parietal junction and precuneus. This finding supports our hypothesis that religious subjects, who consider their God to be ‘real’ and capable of reciprocating requests, recruit areas of social cognition when they pray. We argue that praying to God is an intersubjective experience comparable to ‘normal’ interpersonal interaction.
social cognition; theory of mind; belief; reciprocity; prayer
Spirituality is a subjective and multi-dimensional concept. The ambiguity in its meaning can create barriers in its application in both education and medicine. The present study aimed to explore the Iranian cancer patients’ perception of spirituality.
A qualitative study, using the content analysis approach, was conducted. Semi-structured interviews were held with 11 cancer patients and six members of their families in one of Tehran’s hospitals and a charity institute. The data generated were transcribed verbatim and content analysis approach was used for data reduction, naming data, obtaining analytical code and determining categories and themes.
Three themes (and seven sub-themes) emerged from the data analysis: 1) God as the spiritual truth (relationship with God and trust in God), 2) Moralities as a spiritual sign (considering personal and social moral codes) and 3) Spiritual resources as the source of hope (religious, personal and social resources).
Overall, in the view of cancer patients, spirituality can be defined in a religious context. However, some of them believe in morality beside religiosity, so health care staff must pay due attention to these aspects, to provide them with the opportunity to use spiritual resources.
Spirituality; Perception; Experience; Cancer patients; Content analysis
This study identifies factors associated with Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) membership in a sample of 81 persons who have achieved at least one year of total abstinence from drugs and alcohol. Forty-four were AA members, 37 were not. Logistic regression was used to test the cross-sectional associations of baseline demographic, substance-related, spiritual and religious, and personality variables with AA membership. Significant variables from the bivariate analyses were included in a multivariate model controlling for previous AA involvement. Having more positive views of God and more negative consequences of drinking were significantly associated with AA membership. This information can be used by clinicians to identify clients for whom AA might be a good fit, and can help others overcome obstacles to AA or explore alternative forms of abstinence support.
Alcoholism; Alcoholics Anonymous; predictors of Alcoholics Anonymous membership
The purpose of this study is to see if contact with the dead is associated with lower death anxiety among older Mexican Americans. The data come from a nationwide survey of older Mexican Americans (N = 1,005). The study model specifies that: (a) older Mexican Americans who have experienced contact with the dead are more likely to see the connectedness that exists among all people; (b) seeing that all people are one promotes feelings of grateful to God; (c) gratitude toward God is, in turn, associated with lower death anxiety. The findings support each of these relationships.
contact with dead; death anxiety; Mexican Americans
Cultural constructs prevalent in older African Americans may influence their risk perceptions and knowledge of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). To examine this issue, we administered 3 sociocultural scales, the Alzheimer’s Disease Knowledge Scale, and a Risk Perception questionnaire to 271 older African Americans who were recruited from a large community senior center and local churches. Higher Present Time Orientation was significantly related to perceptions of having little control over risks to health (p = .004), God’s Will in determining AD (p = .001), and lower AD knowledge (p < .0001), and marginally related to having little control over developing AD (p = .052). Religiosity was marginally related to having little control over risks to health (p = .055) and getting AD″ (p =.057). Post hoc inter-group comparisons found significant differences in the highest vs. lowest scoring Religiosity groups. There were no significant differences by Future Time Orientation. Most subjects (57.6%) were unaware that African Americans were at higher risk for AD than whites. These data indicate that cultural diversity within older African Americans may shape health perceptions and knowledge of AD. This diversity may contribute to disparities in the detection and treatment of AD in this high risk population.
Cultural Diversity; Alzheimer’s Disease; African Americans
In-depth interviews were conducted with 39 very religious people living with HIV (16 had ever and 23 had never discontinued antiretroviral therapy—ART) to assess the role of religion in these treatment decisions and in coping with HIV. Participants who had ever discontinued ART gave reasons such as: teachings and prophecies from religious leaders, and supporting Biblical scriptures all of which led them to feel that God and their faith, not ART, would help them; and testimonies by their “already healed” peers who had stopped ART. Participants who had never discontinued ART gave reasons such as continuous adherence counseling from multiple sources, improvement in physical health as a result of ART, and beliefs that God heals in different ways and that non-adherence is equal to putting God to a test. High religiosity was reported to help participants cope with HIV through engagement in personal and or community protective behaviours, “taking care of other illness”, and reducing worries. When high religiosity among people living with HIV (PHAs) becomes a barrier to ART adherence, the adherence counseling provided can draw on experiences of PHAs with high religiosity who have sustained good adherence to ART and achieved good health outcomes.
religiosity; ART adherence; Uganda