Religion, Spirituality Linked to Better Health in Cancer Patients

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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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