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Special Issue "Spirituality and Health"

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A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Health and Psychology of Religion".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2010)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Arndt Büssing

Institute for Integrative Medicine, Faculty of Health, Witten/Herdecke University, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +49-2330-623246
Fax: +49 2330623358
Interests: mind-body medicine approaches; spirituality and health; quality of life; coping; questionnaire development; intergrative medicine; clinical studies; health service research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Although there is mounting research showing a connection between spirituality/religiosity and health, truly understanding their relationship has only just begun. Scientific literature indicates that spirituality/religiosity is an important resource for coping with chronic disease, may be related to better mental and physical health, and improved medical outcomes. It is unclear whether the published data on the health promoting effects of spirituality/religiosity from North America, which draw on a particular cultural background with a deep-seated and vital religious tradition, can easily be transferred to countries with different cultural and religious backgrounds, or to more secular countries such as Northern Europe. Moreover, what are the distinct religious attitudes or distinct forms of spiritual practice that are associated with better medical outcomes and better health (or worse health)? The special issue of Religions will provide an overview on different concepts of spirituality/religiosity in the context of health and chronic disease, and will explore the attitudes of patients toward implementing this in clinical practice. For any practical applications that lead to the addressing of spiritual/religious issues in clinical practice, the scientific evidence of associations between spirituality/religiosity, health and coping needs to be critically analyzed and discussed.

Prof. Dr. Arndt Büssing
Guest Editor

Submission

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. Papers will be published continuously (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are refereed through a peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed Open Access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 300 CHF (Swiss Francs). English correction and/or formatting fees of 250 CHF (Swiss Francs) will be charged in certain cases for those articles accepted for publication that require extensive additional formatting and/or English corrections.


Keywords

  • spirituality
  • religiosity
  • health
  • disease
  • coping

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessArticle Spiritual Distress in Bereavement: Evolution of a Research Program
Religions 2014, 5(4), 1087-1115; doi:10.3390/rel5041087
Received: 15 September 2014 / Revised: 21 October 2014 / Accepted: 31 October 2014 / Published: 12 November 2014
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (671 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Many mourners turn to their spiritual beliefs and traditions when confronted by the death of a loved one. However, prior studies have either focused primarily on the benefits of faith following loss or studied spiritual struggle outside the context of bereavement. Moreover, scales
[...] Read more.
Many mourners turn to their spiritual beliefs and traditions when confronted by the death of a loved one. However, prior studies have either focused primarily on the benefits of faith following loss or studied spiritual struggle outside the context of bereavement. Moreover, scales to measure bereavement-related crises of faith and interventions specifically designed for spiritually inclined, distressed grievers are virtually non-existent. Our program of research, which to date has consisted of working with Christian grievers and is outlined below, elucidates complicated spiritual grief (CSG)—a spiritual crisis following the loss of a loved one. For example, our longitudinal examination of 46 African American homicide survivors established the relation between positive religious coping, CSG, and complicated grief (CG), to clarify whether religious coping more strongly predicted bereavement distress or vice versa, with a follow-up study that determined the relation between religious coping and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. We replicated and expanded these findings with a diverse sample of 150 grievers to explore the complex relation between CSG, CG, and meaning making in a comparison study of mourners who had experienced traumatic-versus natural death losses. In a companion study, we qualitatively analyzed 84 grievers’ narratives and interviewed a 5-member focus group to capture and learn from their firsthand experiences of spiritual distress. To close the gap in terms of CSG assessment, we also developed and validated the Inventory of Complicated Spiritual Grief (ICSG). Currently, our ongoing CSG investigation extends in several directions: first, to a sample of family members anticipating the loss of their hospice-eligible loved one in palliative care; and, second, to the development and testing of a writing-intensive intervention for newly bereaved, spiritually inclined grievers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Health)
Open AccessArticle The Association between Compassionate Love and Spiritual Coping with Trauma in Men and Women Living with HIV
Religions 2014, 5(4), 1050-1061; doi:10.3390/rel5041050
Received: 13 July 2014 / Revised: 22 September 2014 / Accepted: 24 September 2014 / Published: 21 October 2014
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (116 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Our ten-year study examined the association between compassionate love (CL)—other-centered love, as well as compassionate self-love, and spiritual coping (SC)—the use of spirituality (connection to a Higher Presence or God) as a means to cope with trauma, and gender differences in 177 people
[...] Read more.
Our ten-year study examined the association between compassionate love (CL)—other-centered love, as well as compassionate self-love, and spiritual coping (SC)—the use of spirituality (connection to a Higher Presence or God) as a means to cope with trauma, and gender differences in 177 people living with HIV (PLWH). In a secondary data analysis of six-monthly interviews/essays, we coded five criteria of CL and rated the benefit of CL giving, receiving and self for the recipient. Synergistically, we rated longitudinal SC based on coding of 18 coping strategies. Overall, mean CL towards self was very high, followed by CL receiving and giving, while mean SC was moderately high. Women, in comparison to men, perceived higher benefit from SC and giving CL to others. Overall, CL towards self had the strongest association with SC, more pronounced in women than in men. Beyond gender, only CL for the self was a significant predictor of SC. Although there was a moderate association between SC and the perceived benefit from giving CL, after controlling for gender, this association was present in men only. Conversely, receiving CL from others yields a stronger association with SC in women than in men. Women perceived to benefit significantly more from SC and giving CL to others compared to men, whereas no gender differences were found on perceiving benefit from receiving CL from others or oneself. In conclusion, although women perceive more benefit from giving CL to others than men, this does not explain the higher benefit from SC among women. Ultimately, both men and women perceive to benefit more from SC the more they exhibit CL towards self and thus spiritual counseling should keep the importance of the balance between CL towards self and others in mind. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Health)
Open AccessArticle Reliance on God’s Help in Patients with Depressive and Addictive Disorders is not Associated with Their Depressive Symptoms
Religions 2012, 3(2), 455-466; doi:10.3390/rel3020455
Received: 28 March 2012 / Revised: 26 April 2012 / Accepted: 16 May 2012 / Published: 4 June 2012
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (355 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Objective: Although there are several reports which support a (negative) association between depression and spirituality/religiosity, the specific nature of the relationships remains unclear. To address whether patients with depressive and/or addictive disorders use this resource at all, we focused on a circumscribed variable
[...] Read more.
Objective: Although there are several reports which support a (negative) association between depression and spirituality/religiosity, the specific nature of the relationships remains unclear. To address whether patients with depressive and/or addictive disorders use this resource at all, we focused on a circumscribed variable of intrinsic religiosity, and analyzed putative associations between intrinsic religiosity, depression, life satisfaction and internal adaptive coping strategies. Methods: We referred to data of 111 patients with either depressive and/or addictive disorders treated in three German clinics. For this anonym cross sectional study, standardized instruments were used, i.e., the 5-item scale Reliance on God’s Help (RGH), Beck’s Depression Inventory (BDI), the 3-item scale Escape from Illness, the Brief Multidimensional Life Satisfaction Scale (BMLSS), and internal adaptive coping strategies as measured with the AKU questionnaire. Results: Patients with addictive disorders had significantly higher RGH than patients with depressive disorders (F = 3.6; p = 0.03). Correlation analyses revealed that RGH was not significantly associated with the BDI scores, instead depressive symptoms were significantly associated with life satisfaction and internal adaptive coping strategies (i.e., Reappraisal: Illness as Chance and Conscious Living). Patients with either low or high RGH did not significantly differ with respect to their BDI scores. None of the underlying dimensions of RGH were associated with depression scores, but with life satisfaction and (negatively) with Escape from illness. Nevertheless, patients with high RGH had significantly higher adaptive coping strategies. Regression analyses revealed that Reappraisal as a cognitive coping strategy to re-define the value of illness and to use it as a chance of development (i.e., change attitudes and behavior), was the best predictor of patients’ RGH (Beta = 0.36, p = 0.001), while neither depression as underlying disease (as compared to addictive disorders) nor patients’ life satisfaction had a significant influence on their RGH. Conclusions: Although RGH was significantly higher in patients with addictive disorders than in patients with depressive disorders, depressive symptoms are not significantly associated with patients’ intrinsic religiosity. Particularly those patients with high intrinsic religiosity seem to have stronger access to positive (internal) strategies to cope, and higher life satisfaction. Whether spirituality/religiosity is used by the patients as a reliable resource may depend on their individual experience during live, their expectations, and specific world-view. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Health)
Open AccessArticle Being Diagnosed with HIV as a Trigger for Spiritual Transformation
Religions 2011, 2(3), 398-409; doi:10.3390/rel2030398
Received: 12 July 2011 / Revised: 4 August 2011 / Accepted: 19 August 2011 / Published: 25 August 2011
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (196 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
How can the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS result in a positive spiritual transformation (ST)? The purpose of this sub-study is to identify special features of the experiences of individuals in whom HIV/AIDS diagnosis triggered a positive ST. We found ST triggered by HIV/AIDS to
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How can the diagnosis of HIV/AIDS result in a positive spiritual transformation (ST)? The purpose of this sub-study is to identify special features of the experiences of individuals in whom HIV/AIDS diagnosis triggered a positive ST. We found ST triggered by HIV/AIDS to develop gradually, with a key adaptation phase after diagnosis in which the patient develops an individualized spirituality. Most participants (92%) expressed having an individual connection to a higher presence/entity. Most (92%) also described themselves as feeling more spiritual than religious (p < 0.001). Religious professionals did not play a key role in fostering ST. Despite experiencing stigma by virtue of certain religious views, participants accepted themselves, which supported the process that we called “the triad of care taking”. This triad started with self-destructive behavior (92%), such as substance use and risky sex, then transformed to developing self-care after diagnosis (adaptation) and gradually expanded in some (62%) to compassionate care for others during ST. Spirituality did not trigger the adaption phase immediately after diagnosis, but contributed to long-lasting lifestyle changes. Overcoming self-reported depression, (92% before diagnosis and in 8% after ST) was a common feature. After the adaption phase, none of the participants blamed themselves, others or God for their HIV+ status. The prevailing view, rather, was that “God made them aware”. Our results suggest that it may be important to find ways to support people with HIV in feeling connected to a higher presence/entity, since this leads not only to a deeper connection with a higher presence/entity, but also to a deeper connection with oneself and to more responsible and caring behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Health)
Open AccessArticle Complicated Grief in the Aftermath of Homicide: Spiritual Crisis and Distress in an African American Sample
Religions 2011, 2(2), 145-164; doi:10.3390/rel2020145
Received: 10 May 2011 / Revised: 23 May 2011 / Accepted: 3 June 2011 / Published: 14 June 2011
Cited by 9 | PDF Full-text (685 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Both grieving the loss of a loved one and using spirituality or religion as an aid in doing so are common behaviors in the wake of death. This longitudinal examination of 46 African American homicide survivors follows up on our earlier study that
[...] Read more.
Both grieving the loss of a loved one and using spirituality or religion as an aid in doing so are common behaviors in the wake of death. This longitudinal examination of 46 African American homicide survivors follows up on our earlier study that established the relation between positive and negative religious coping on the one hand and complicated grief (CG) on the other. In the current report, we broadened this focus to determine the relation between religious coping and other bereavement outcomes, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, to establish whether religious coping more strongly predicted bereavement distress or vice versa. We also sought to determine if the predictive power of CG in terms of religious coping over time exceeded that of PTSD and depression. Our results suggested a link between negative religious coping (NRC) and all forms of bereavement distress, whereas no such link was found between positive religious coping (PRC) and bereavement outcomes in our final analyses. Significantly, only CG prospectively predicted high levels of spiritual struggle six months later. Clinical implications regarding spiritually sensitive interventions are noted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Health)
Open AccessArticle The Four Domains Model: Connecting Spirituality, Health and Well-Being
Religions 2011, 2(1), 17-28; doi:10.3390/rel2010017
Received: 11 November 2010 / Revised: 10 December 2010 / Accepted: 7 January 2011 / Published: 11 January 2011
Cited by 22 | PDF Full-text (187 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
At our core, or coeur, we humans are spiritual beings. Spirituality can be viewed in a variety of ways from a traditional understanding of spirituality as an expression of religiosity, in search of the sacred, through to a humanistic view of spirituality devoid
[...] Read more.
At our core, or coeur, we humans are spiritual beings. Spirituality can be viewed in a variety of ways from a traditional understanding of spirituality as an expression of religiosity, in search of the sacred, through to a humanistic view of spirituality devoid of religion. Health is also multi-faceted, with increasing evidence reporting the relationship of spirituality with physical, mental, emotional, social and vocational well-being. This paper presents spiritual health as a, if not THE, fundamental dimension of people’s overall health and well-being, permeating and integrating all the other dimensions of health. Spiritual health is a dynamic state of being, reflected in the quality of relationships that people have in up to four domains of spiritual well-being: Personal domain where a person intra-relates with self; Communal domain, with in-depth inter-personal relationships; Environmental domain, connecting with nature; Transcendental domain, relating to some-thing or some‑One beyond the human level. The Four Domains Model of Spiritual Health and Well‑Being embraces all extant world-views from the ardently religious to the atheistic rationalist. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Health)
Open AccessArticle Spiritual Needs of Patients with Chronic Diseases
Religions 2010, 1(1), 18-27; doi:10.3390/rel1010018
Received: 21 September 2010 / Revised: 25 October 2010 / Accepted: 8 November 2010 / Published: 12 November 2010
Cited by 24 | PDF Full-text (135 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
For many patients confronted with chronic diseases, spirituality/religiosity is an important resource for coping. Patients often report unmet spiritual and existential needs, and spiritual support is also associated with better quality of life. Caring for spiritual, existential and psychosocial needs is not only
[...] Read more.
For many patients confronted with chronic diseases, spirituality/religiosity is an important resource for coping. Patients often report unmet spiritual and existential needs, and spiritual support is also associated with better quality of life. Caring for spiritual, existential and psychosocial needs is not only relevant to patients at the end of their life but also to those suffering from long-term chronic illnesses. Spiritual needs may not always be associated with life satisfaction, but sometimes with anxiety, and can be interpreted as the patients’ longing for spiritual well-being. The needs for peace, health and social support are universal human needs and are of special importance to patients with long lasting courses of disease. The factor, Actively Giving, may be of particular importance because it can be interpreted as patients’ intention to leave the role of a `passive sufferer´ to become an active, self-actualizing, giving individual. One can identify four core dimensions of spiritual needs, i.e., Connection, Peace, Meaning/Purpose, and Transcendence, which can be attributed to underlying psychosocial, emotional, existential, and religious needs. The proposed model can provide a conceptual framework for further research and clinical practice. In fact, health care that addresses patients’ physical, emotional, social, existential and spiritual needs (referring to a bio-psychosocial-spiritual model of health care) will contribute to patients’ improvement and recovery. Nevertheless, there are several barriers in the health care system that makes it difficult to adequately address these needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Health)
Open AccessArticle Medicine for the Spirit: Religious Coping in Individuals with Medical Conditions
Religions 2010, 1(1), 28-53; doi:10.3390/rel1010028
Received: 28 October 2010 / Revised: 11 November 2010 / Accepted: 11 November 2010 / Published: 12 November 2010
Cited by 26 | PDF Full-text (101 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Religious coping now represents a key variable of interest in research on health outcomes, not only because many individuals turn to their faith in times of illness, but also because studies have frequently found that religious coping is associated with desirable health outcomes.
[...] Read more.
Religious coping now represents a key variable of interest in research on health outcomes, not only because many individuals turn to their faith in times of illness, but also because studies have frequently found that religious coping is associated with desirable health outcomes. The purpose of this article is to familiarize readers with recent investigations of religious coping in samples with medical conditions. The present article will begin by describing a conceptual model of religious coping. The article will then provide data on the prevalence of religious coping in a range of samples. After presenting findings that illustrate the general relationship between religious coping and health outcomes, the article will review more specific pathways through which religious coping is thought to impact health. These pathways include shaping individuals’ active coping with health problems, influencing patients’ emotional responses to illness, fostering social support, and facilitating meaning making. This article will also address the darker side of religious coping, describing forms of coping that are linked to negative outcomes. Examples of religious coping interventions will also be reviewed. Finally, we will close with suggestions for future work in this important field of research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Health)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Pain, Spirituality, and Meaning Making: What Can We Learn from the Literature?
Religions 2011, 2(1), 1-16; doi:10.3390/rel2010001
Received: 9 October 2010 / Revised: 24 December 2010 / Accepted: 30 December 2010 / Published: 31 December 2010
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (182 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Religion and spirituality are two methods of meaning making that impact a person’s ability to cope, tolerate, and accept disease and pain. The biopsychosocial-spiritual model includes the human spirit’s drive toward meaning-making along with personality, mental health, age, sex, social relationships, and reactions
[...] Read more.
Religion and spirituality are two methods of meaning making that impact a person’s ability to cope, tolerate, and accept disease and pain. The biopsychosocial-spiritual model includes the human spirit’s drive toward meaning-making along with personality, mental health, age, sex, social relationships, and reactions to stress. In this review, studies focusing on religion’s and spirituality’s effect upon pain in relationship to physical and mental health, spiritual practices, and the placebo response are examined. The findings suggest that people who are self efficacious and more religiously and spiritually open to seeking a connection to a meaningful spiritual practice and/or the transcendent are more able to tolerate pain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spirituality and Health)

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