Strong Belief System Aids the Ill
According to a new review of research published in the journal Cancer, a strong religious or spiritual belief system may improve a cancer patient’s prognosis physically, emotionally and mentally.
Researchers from Florida’s H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute and North Carolina’s Wake Forest School of Medicine reviewed clinical studies that included more than 44,000 cancer patients. The first review focused on physical symptoms and found that patients with stronger religious and spiritual beliefs reported fewer cancer symptoms and better physical health. They also showed enhanced capabilities in managing their daily lives.
“These relationships were particularly strong in patients that experienced greater emotional aspects of religion and spirituality, including a sense of meaning and purpose in life, as well as a connection to a source larger than oneself,” states Heather Jim, lead author of the first review.
The second review focused on mental health and found reductions in anxiety, depression and distress among those with greater spirituality. Lead author Dr. John Salsman comments, “Also, greater levels of spiritual distress and a sense of disconnectedness from God or a religious community were associated with greater psychological distress or poorer emotional well-being.”
In the third review, the researchers found that patients with a stronger spiritual well-being reported better social health, as well.