Religion, Spirituality Linked to Better Health in Cancer Patients

Three reviews show correlations with measures of physical, mental, and social health outcomes.
Three reviews show correlations with measures of physical, mental, and social health outcomes.

(HealthDay News) -- For cancer patients, religion and spirituality (R/S) measures are associated with measures of physical, mental, and social health outcomes, according to 3 reviews published online in Cancer.

Heather S.L. Jim, Ph.D., from the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis for 497 effect sizes from 101 unique samples encompassing more than 32,000 adult cancer patients. The authors sought to examine R/S measures and measures of physical health. They found that overall R/S correlated with overall physical health (P < 0.001), with no moderation by sociodemographic or clinical variables. Affective R/S correlated with physical well-being, functional well-being, and physical symptoms (all P < 0.001).

John M. Salsman, Ph.D., from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis on R/S and mental health, examining 617 effect sizes from 148 eligible studies. The researchers found that the estimated mean correlation was 0.19, which varied with R/S dimensions (affective, behavioral, cognitive, and "other"). There was generally a positive correlation between R/S and mental health; the strength of the correlation was modest and varied as a function of R/S dimensions and mental health domains. 

In a third study, Allen C. Sherman, Ph.D., from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, and colleagues reviewed data for 78 samples encompassing 14,277 patients. The researchers observed a significant correlation between social health and overall R/S and each of the R/S dimensions.

"When we took a closer look, we found that patients with stronger spiritual well-being, more benign images of God (such as perceptions of a benevolent rather than an angry or distant God), or stronger beliefs (such as convictions that a personal God can be called upon for assistance) reported better social health," Sherman said in a statement.

Sources

  1. Jim, HSL; Pustejovsky, JE; Park, CL; et al. Cancer, published online Aug 10, 2015; doi: 10.1002/cncr.29353.
  2. Salsman, JM; Pustejovsky, JE; Jim, HSL; et al. Cancer, published online Aug 10, 2015; doi: 10.1002/cncr.29350.
  3. Sherman, AC; Merluzzi, TV; Pustejovsky, JE; et al. Cancer, published online Aug 10, 2015; doi: 10.1002/cncr.29352.
  4. Park, CL; Sherman, AC; Jim, HS; and Salsman, JM; Cancer, published online Aug 10, 2015; doi: 10.1002/cncr.29351.
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