- Religion and spirituality as a coping mechanism with cancer (2011)
- The aim of the present study is to investigate the existing controversially debated relationship between religion and spirituality and coping with an illness. Specifically, the study analyzes religion and spirituality as coping mechanisms with cancer, since for cancer patients in particular little is known about religion and spirituality as a coping mechanism, in addition to the very diverse results published so far in the field. The study’s goal is to understand whether religion or spirituality can be viewed as a positive coping mechanism for cancer patients and whether this relationship depends on a patient’s specific characteristics (e.g. age, education) or on the illness characteristics (e.g. cancer type, illness stage). The applied research methodology is a systematic meta-analysis, a research method that was evaluated as the most appropriate to ensure that the current research problem is clearly defined and set within the established context. Four main findings emerged from this research. First, spirituality highly correlates with augmented quality of life and with reduced emotional distress. Second, the meaning component of spirituality showed stronger correlations with higher quality of life and reduced emotional distress in comparison to the faith one. Third, general religiousness showed weak to non significant correlations with quality of life and emotional distress. Fourth, negative religious coping showed significant relations with augmented emotional distress and reduced quality of life while positive religious coping showed non-significant relationship with the mentioned above dependent variables. The results suggest that spirituality as a coping mechanism with cancer is a strong positive coping mechanism. Specifically, constructing a meaning from the illness experience seems to have a powerful connection with a better psycho-social well being among cancer patients. At the same time, religion has both positive and negative implication for psycho-social well-being of cancer patients, depending upon the type of religion as mentioned above. Last, illness and socio-demographic variables did not show a consistent pattern of moderation for the effect sizes of the different dependent-independent variables combination, suggesting that when it comes to religion and spirituality, situational factors and specific religious and non religious functions, beliefs and practices need to be taken into account.