Spirituality is Associated with Reduced Emotional Distress in Lung Cancer Survivors

Spirituality is Associated with Reduced Emotional Distress in Lung Cancer Survivors

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“However you define spirituality, studies show that it can play an important role in coping with the recovery and healing process from cancer treatment and its after effects.” – LungCancer.org

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotional distress and stress of a cancer diagnosis is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer diagnosis.

 

Religion and spirituality become much more important to people when they’re diagnosed with cancer or when living with cancer. It is thought that people take comfort in the spiritual when facing mortality. Hence, spirituality may be a useful tool for the survivors of cancer to cope with their illness and the consequent emotional distress. Thus, it makes sense to study the relationships of spirituality with the mental health of cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “Spirituality and Emotional Distress Among Lung Cancer Survivors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6859202/ ) Gudenkauf and colleagues recruited adult patients with lung cancer and had them complete questionnaires measuring spirituality, emotional distress, and quality of life. within 1 year of their diagnosis and 1 year later.

 

They found that the lung cancer survivors, not surprisingly, were generally high in emotional distress. But those survivors who were high in spirituality, including the meaning, peace, and faith dimensions, were high in quality of life and low in emotional distress. In addition, those survivors who were high in distress at the first measurement, if they were also high in spirituality meaning, were more likely to have low emotional distress 1 year later.

 

It should be kept in mind that the present study was observational and as a result causation cannot be determined. But it appears that in these lung cancer survivors, spirituality is associated with better quality of life and lower emotional distress and that spirituality tends to predict lower emotional distress a year later. Hence, spirituality appears to help survivors cope with their emotional reactions to their diagnosis. Future studies should investigate whether promoting spirituality in these survivors may improve their emotions and quality of life.

 

So, spirituality is associated with reduced emotional distress in lung cancer survivors.

 

While having a spiritual or religious foundation can’t change your diagnosis or the effectiveness of treatment, some patients find their beliefs help them find meaning and cope. “It may not impact your prognosis, but it can help improve your overall outlook during treatment,” – Tiffany Meyer

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Gudenkauf, L. M., Clark, M. M., Novotny, P. J., Piderman, K. M., Ehlers, S. L., Patten, C. A., Nes, L. S., Ruddy, K. J., Sloan, J. A., & Yang, P. (2019). Spirituality and Emotional Distress Among Lung Cancer Survivors. Clinical lung cancer, 20(6), e661–e666. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cllc.2019.06.015

 

Abstract

Background:

Emerging research is highlighting the importance of spirituality in cancer survivorship as well as the importance of early distress screening. The purpose of this study was to prospectively examine the relationships among spirituality, emotional distress, and sociodemographic variables during the early period of lung cancer survivorship.

Patients and Methods:

864 lung cancer survivors completed the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy – Spiritual Well-Being (FACIT-Sp), and the Short-Form-8 (SF-8) for emotional distress within the first year following lung cancer diagnosis, and 474 of these survivors completed the survey again one year later.

Results:

At baseline, spirituality was associated with lower prevalence of emotional distress, being married, fewer years of cigarette smoking, and better ECOG performance status. Additionally, high baseline spirituality was associated with lower rates of high emotional distress at one-year follow-up.

Conclusion:

These findings suggest that spirituality may serve as a protective factor for emotional distress among lung cancer survivors. Further research is warranted to explore the role of spirituality in promoting distress management among lung cancer survivors.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6859202/

 

Spirituality Activates the Brain Networks Underlying Other-Than-Self Attention

Spirituality Activates the Brain Networks Underlying Other-Than-Self Attention

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Understanding the neural bases of spiritual experiences may help us better understand their roles in resilience and recovery from mental health and addictive disorders.” – Ephrat Livni

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred.” It has been shown to have a myriad of benefits including recovery from addiction.  In addition, spirituality alters the nervous system. It has been demonstrated that spirituality is associated with changes in the size, activity, and connectivity of the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain. So, spirituality and changes in neural systems co-occur. We may be better able to control addiction if we develop a more nuanced understanding of the changes in the brain that occur with spirituality.

 

In today’s Research News article “Spiritual experiences are related to engagement of a ventral frontotemporal functional brain network: Implications for prevention and treatment of behavioral and substance addictions.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7044576/ ) McClintock and colleagues recruited healthy adult, age 18 to 27 years, participants and scanned their brains with functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) while they were being guided toward images of either neutral, stressful, or spiritual imagery. Before and after testing they completed a measure of spirituality.

 

They found that during spiritual but not neutral or stressful imagery there was a significant increase in the activity of brain structures that constitute a ventral frontotemporal network, including middle and inferior frontal cortices, superior, middle and inferior temporal cortices, insula and frontal opercula, striatum, thalamus, brainstem, and cerebellum. The greater the increase in spirituality reported over the testing, the greater the increase in the activity of the ventral frontotemporal network. Hence, the more the imagery increased their spiritual feelings, the greater the response of the brain. They also found that there was a significant decrease in activity in areas of the brain that are components of the default mode network, including the middle and posterior cingulate and parietal cortex.

 

These findings suggest that the ventral frontotemporal network is activated during spiritual imagery while components of the default mode network are deactivated. The ventral frontotemporal network has been associated with attentional processing while the default mode network has been associated with self-referential thinking and mind wandering. It can be speculated that during spiritual imagery attention is focused away from the self. Regardless, the findings suggest that specific parts of the brain are involved in processing spiritual imagery.

 

So, spirituality activates the brain networks underlying other-than-self attention.

 

it’s essential to examine how people experience spirituality in order to fully understand how their brains work.” – Lynne Blumberg

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

McClintock, C. H., Worhunsky, P. D., Xu, J., Balodis, I. M., Sinha, R., Miller, L., & Potenza, M. N. (2019). Spiritual experiences are related to engagement of a ventral frontotemporal functional brain network: Implications for prevention and treatment of behavioral and substance addictions. Journal of behavioral addictions, 8(4), 678–691. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.8.2019.71

 

Abstract

Background and aims

Spirituality is an important component of 12-step programs for behavioral and substance addictions and has been linked to recovery processes. Understanding the neural correlates of spiritual experiences may help to promote efforts to enhance recovery processes in behavioral addictions. We recently used general linear model (GLM) analyses of functional magnetic resonance imaging data to examine neural correlates of spiritual experiences, with findings implicating cortical and subcortical brain regions. Although informative, the GLM-based approach does not provide insight into brain circuits that may underlie spiritual experiences.

Methods

Spatial independent component analysis (sICA) was used to identify functional brain networks specifically linked to spiritual (vs. stressful or neutral-relaxing) conditions using a previously validated guided imagery task in 27 young adults.

Results

Using sICA, engagement of a ventral frontotemporal network was identified that was engaged at the onset and conclusion of the spiritual condition in a manner distinct from engagement during the stress or neutral-relaxing conditions. Degree of engagement correlated with subjective reports of spirituality in the scanner (r = .71, p < .001) and an out-of-the-magnet measure of spirituality (r = .48, p < .018).

Discussion and conclusion

The current findings suggest a distributed functional neural network associated with spiritual experiences and provide a foundation for investigating brain mechanisms underlying the role of spirituality in recovery from behavioral addictions.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7044576/

 

Workplace Well-Being is Associated with Spirituality

Workplace Well-Being is Associated with Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Burnout, compassion fatigue, career exhaustion—you can rewire your brain to see these afflictions as opportunities for embarking on a new path. You don’t have to stay on a dead-end street.”- Pamela Milam

 

Work is very important for our health and well-being. We spend approximately 25% of our adult lives at work. How we spend that time is immensely important for our psychological and physical health. Indeed, the work environment has even become an important part of our social lives, with friendships and leisure time activities often attached to the people we work with. But, more than half of employees in the U.S. and nearly 2/3 worldwide are unhappy at work. This is partially due to work-related stress which is epidemic in the western workplace. Almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. This stress can result in impaired health and can result in burnout; producing fatigue, cynicism, and professional inefficacy.

 

Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. Perhaps, then, spirituality can be helpful in relieving stress and lowering burnout in the workplace.

 

In today’s Research News article “Employee burnout and positive dimensions of well-being: A latent workplace spirituality profile analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7671502/ ) Del Corso and colleagues performed 2 studies of the association of workplace spirituality with the employee well-being. In the first study they recruited employees of 3 different Italian companies and had them complete measures of positive supervisor behavior, burnout, and workplace spirituality.

 

They found that the higher the levels of workplace spirituality the lower the levels of burnout. They also found that positive supervisor behavior was negatively associated with burnout indirectly by being positively associated with workplace spirituality which was in turn negatively associated with burnout. So, spirituality was higher in employees whose supervisors expressed positive supervisory behavior and burnout was lower in employees who were high in spirituality.

 

In the second study they again recruited employees of Italian companies and had them complete measures of workplace spirituality, work engagement, positive emotions, self-efficacy, and resilience. They found that employees who were high in workplace spirituality were significantly higher in positive emotions, resilience, self-efficacy, vigor, dedication, absorption, and work engagement.

 

These studies were correlational and as such caution must be exercised in reaching causal conclusions. With this in mind, the results suggest that workplace spirituality is highly associated with employee well-being and lower levels of burnout. Workplace spirituality is composed of 4 factors; engaging work, sense of community, spiritual connection, and mystical experiences. Two of these components involve a satisfying work environment while two involve dimensions of spirituality. The results suggested that all of these components were significantly involved in the association with well-being.

 

Spirituality has well documented associations with overall well-being of the individuals. This study demonstrates that this extends into the workplace. These results suggest, not surprisingly, that having a satisfying work environment contributes to the employees’ well-being but more surprisingly being spiritual also contributes.

 

So, workplace well-being is associated with spirituality.

 

When people operate with high-stress levels without rest, they reduce productivity and risk their health. . . practices like meditation make your mind strong balanced and flexible and able to focus at will. “ – Spiritual Earth

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Dal Corso, L., De Carlo, A., Carluccio, F., Colledani, D., & Falco, A. (2020). Employee burnout and positive dimensions of well-being: A latent workplace spirituality profile analysis. PloS one, 15(11), e0242267. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0242267

 

Abstract

In recent years, a new and promising construct has attracted the attention of organizational research: Workplace spirituality. To investigate the role of workplace spirituality in organizational contexts, two studies were carried out. Study 1 explored the mediation role of workplace spirituality in the relationship between positive supervisor behaviors and employee burnout. Results showed that workplace spirituality strongly contributes to reduce burnout and mediates the effect of supervisor integrity in reducing this threat. Study 2 considered the relationships of workplace spirituality with positive affectivity, resilience, self-efficacy, and work engagement. In particular, workplace spirituality profiles were investigated through latent profile analysis (LPA). Findings showed that workplace spirituality is related to higher positive affectivity, resilience, self-efficacy, and work engagement. In contrast, a workplace spirituality profile characterized by a low-intensity spiritual experience is associated with higher negative feelings. The practical implications of these findings are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7671502/

 

Pandemic on the Eightfold Path

Pandemic on the Eightfold Path

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“If we strive to transform our collective isolation into an opportunity for communal solitude, we might discover that it is, as it has always been, the seedbed for growth in holiness and wholeness, for communion and connection, for resistance and renewal. – Kerry Maloney

 

The Covid-19 Pandemic has proved challenging in many ways. Not only is it a threat to physical health, it is also a threat to mental health. It has produced isolation from normal activities and social connections. This includes spiritual activities with many church services curtailed and even the cessation of spiritual retreats. But it also produces many opportunities to practice engaging with the Buddha’s Eightfold Path, the Buddha’s method for the cessation of suffering. The path includes 8 components; Right View, Right Intentions, Right Actions, Right Speech, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration. During the pandemic there are numerous opportunities to practice the eightfold path. This is an opportunity to not only help cope with the pandemic but also can contribute to spiritual development.

 

The first component of the path is “Right View.” There are a number of these Right Views.”  Including the recognition that all things are impermanent, they come and they go and never stay the same. This is true of the pandemic we see infection rates spiking and then falling and eventually they will go away completely. Even with infection the vast majority of victims fall ill but then slowly recover. The disease is impermanent. But part of “Right View” is also the recognition that health too is impermanent. Illness is as much a part of life as is health. The monk, Ajahn Brahm, tells his doctor when he’s ill that he “has something right” with him. The state of our physical being is constantly changing with all states of health and illness impermanent.

 

Not just our physical being is impermanent but so is everything else. All of the psychological, social, and economic consequences of the pandemic also come and go. Eventually, the fear and depression produced by the pandemic will lift, social life will be reestablished, and the economy will recover. Recognition of this impermanence is important as it emphasize that all this unpleasantness will pass and life will eventually return to normal. It doesn’t relieve the pain, but it provides an optimism that it will eventually cease. But there is no such thing as normal. Our emotions are constantly changing, people come and go from our circle, and wealth comes and goes. It is all impermanent.

 

Another important component of “Right View” is the recognition that everything is interconnected. This is readily apparent during the pandemic. The disease has affected everything, from health, to the economy, to education, to supply chains, to crime, to mental health, to food availability, to travel, to jobs, to the environment, and on and on. There is hardly and aspect of life that has not been changed reflecting how they are all interconnected in the first place. A tiny microscopic virus changes the whole universe reflecting the “Right View” of the interconnectedness of all things

 

Another important component of “Right View” is the recognition of the presence of suffering and unsatisfactoriness in everything. The pandemic directly produces suffering but our response to it can increase or decrease that suffering. One outgrowth of pandemic with which I struggle is boredom. By taking away so many activities, the pandemic has left a vacuum. This creates a problem with boredom. Jon Kabat-Zinn has said that “when you pay attention to boredom it gets unbelievably interesting.” This seemingly paradoxical statement is an amazing teaching. Paying attention to boredom reveals that it is simply wanting things to be different than they are. Such “wantings” are the source of much of unsatisfactoriness and suffering.

 

The antidote is to pay close attention to what is actually present in the now including the beauty and wonder of simply being alive and healthy and the awareness of all the nuances of our sensations and feelings. But it is not just what is there it is also what is not. One wonderful practice taught by the great sage Thich Nhat Hahn is to pay attention to the “non-toothache.” Oral health is taken for granted except when there is a toothache. Then, our entire being becomes focused on the discomfort and the desire for it to cease. Yet when it isn’t there, it isn’t noticed. When we pay attention, not only to what is there but also to what is absent, we can see that there is much more right about the present moment than there is wrong. This evokes a recognition that the present moment is actually wonderful and that paying attention to all that is right in the present relieves the boredom, reinforcing the “Right View” of the presence of suffering and unsatisfactoriness in everything.

 

The pandemic provides a wonderful opportunity to observe unsatisfactoriness and suffering and its roots. Looking closely can reveal that it is not the pandemic alone that produces the unsatisfactoriness and suffering, but also our response to the pandemic. It reveals that we make ourselves miserable by our reactions to it. Wanting it to go away doesn’t change the situation in any way except to produce unsatisfactoriness and suffering. It is sometimes referred to as the “second arrow.” The first arrow is the pandemic and the suffering that it directly produces. This is out of our control. The “second arrow”, however, is our response to it, which has the effect of amplifying the suffering. Trying to fight something over which we have no control produces greater suffering. If it is accepted as pain that is out of our control, we cease to fight against it, and accept it for what it is; a lousy situation produced by the world in which we live. This stops the amplification of the suffering produced by the “second arrow.” Recognizing this can lead to greater understanding of how we make ourselves unhappy, and how by simply accepting things as they are can decrease the suffering. Practicing this builds the “Right View.”

 

The pandemic provides us with an opportunity to practice “Right Intentions.”  These are the intentions to reduce or prevent harm and promote greater happiness, wisdom, and well-being for all beings. During the pandemic “Right Intentions” involves doing things to reduce the horror and to increase peace, well-being, and happiness. If the pandemic is responded to with anger, impatience, selfishness, and resentment it is likely infect others and produce harm. If, on the other hand, we set the “Right Intentions” to respond to the pandemic with tolerance, generosity, equanimity, and understanding it can evoke the same in others. This way injury or harm can be minimized. It would seem obvious, but taking the time beforehand to establish “Right Intentions” may lower the suffering of ourselves and others.

 

Responding to the pandemic with “Right Intentions” is a practice that requires a moral compass. This tends to lead in the right direction even though at times there are stumbles.  It is often difficult or impossible to predict all of the consequences of actions. It is also very difficult avoid all harm. But forming “Right Intentions” and aspiring to create good and happiness will produce more harmony, good will, and happiness than their opposites and produce progress along the eightfold path.

 

During the pandemic we can practice “Right Actions.” Some simple “Right Actions” are to wear a mask, social distance, get vaccinated, and encourage others to do the same. Wearing a mask and social distancing not only helps to protect ourselves but is even more protective to others making it much less likely that the virus will spread. Getting vaccinated as soon as it’s available and encouraging others to get vaccinated not only protects ourselves and the people around us, but also contributes to ending the pandemic for the benefit of all humanity.

 

Verbal and non-verbal interactions are important during the pandemic. “Right Communications” involves communicating in such a way as to promote wisdom, understanding and well-being. They are non-violent and non-judgmental communications. To engage in “Right Communications” the communication must be evaluated beforehand to ascertain whether it true, necessary, and kind.  Only if all of these conditions are met should the communication occur.

 

In order to engage in “Right Communications” there needs to be deep listening. It is impossible to respond appropriately to another if you haven’t listened carefully to exactly what the other said or looked carefully at their expressions or body language. We may not agree with the actions of others. But “Right Communications” demands that have listened deeply. Some people may refuse to wear a mask or call the pandemic a hoax. Responding nonjudgmentally with kindness and compassion after deep listening can go a long way toward having a productive discussion about mask wearing and the reality of the disease. Responding otherwise will simply create more harm than good. It is important that it is realized that we may not be able to change the minds or actions of others but at least with “Right Communications” we can promote understanding.

 

There are many ways that people can make a living during the pandemic that is directed to creating good, helping people, keeping peace, and moving society forward in a positive direction. These occupations are considered “Right Livelihood.” There are rather obvious examples during the pandemic including health care workers, scientists developing vaccines, first responders, and essential workers. But many are hard to evaluate whether they are “Right Livelihood.” In this case there is a need to reflect deeply on what are the effects of the occupation to ascertain whether it promotes good and doesn’t create harm. It is not ours to judge the “rightness” of the livelihood of others. This is a personal matter where intention matters. The process itself of evaluating “Right Livelihood” may heighten awareness of the consequences of participating in careers. This can produce a tailoring or adjustment to the occupation to maximize the good and minimize he harm created.

 

During the pandemic it is helpful to exercise “Right Effort” which involves acting according to the “Middle Way.” That is, not trying too hard but also not being lackadaisical.  “Right Effort” is a relaxed effort. The “Middle Way” is where effort should be targeted. Reacting to the threat of virus by becoming a hermit and isolating oneself is not “Right Effort.” Similarly, not being vigilant and going to bars, restaurants, parties, and large indoor gatherings is also not “Right Effort.” Taking the middle way of wearing masks, social distancing, avoiding large indoor gatherings, and getting vaccinated when available would be best for well-being and would be a right level of effort.

 

All of these components of the eightfold path require “Right Mindfulness”. Unfortunately, mindlessness is generally the norm. But paying attention to what is being experienced in the present moment can turn simple everyday activities into a meditative practice. It creates a richly textured experience of physical and mental activities. It heightens the experience and makes it much more enjoyable. Just the simple act of wearing a mask can be practiced mindfully. Focusing on the feelings on the face from the simple act of breathing through the mask, highlighting the warmth of the breath can make wearing the mask more enjoyable. Paying close attention to how others are moving to maintain social distance can produce an appreciation of the social dance we perform with others. This can improve our lives even during the pandemic.

 

“Right Concentration” is the practice of focusing the mind solely on one object or a specific unchanging set of objects. Mindfulness is paying attention to whatever arises, but concentration is paying attention to one thing to the exclusion of everything else. This is usually developed during contemplative practice such as meditation. But the pandemic has given us extra unused time that can be allocated to meditation or other mindfulness practices.  One of the benefits of the pandemic is that it provides us the opportunity to deepen our practice and “Right Concentration”.

 

Experiencing the pandemic on the eightfold path is a practice. Over time I have gotten better and better at it, but nowhere near perfect. Frequently the discursive mind takes over or my emotions get the better of me. But, by continuing the practice I’ve slowly progressed. I’ve become a better at seeing what needs to be accomplished. I am learning to be relaxed with a smile on my face even when wearing a mask and social distancing. I’ve learned to accept the way things are and understand their impermanence. It takes time and practice but leads to great benefits.

 

Can we attain enlightenment during the pandemic? Probably not! But we can practice the eightfold path and the Buddha taught that this practice leads toward it. Quiet secluded practice is wonderful and perhaps mandatory for progress in spiritual development. But for most people it this is only available during a very limited window of time. The strength of practicing the components of the eightfold path in the real world of our everyday life, even during the pandemic, is that it can greatly enhance its impact. Keep in mind the teaching that actions that lead to greater harmony, understanding, and happiness should be practiced, while those that lead to unsatisfactoriness and unhappiness should be let go.  Without doubt, by practicing the eightfold path during the pandemic can lead toward deeper spirituality.

 

“Mindfulness cultivates agility and flexibility in attention, allowing us to more easily tune in to pleasant experiences that are always present even during a pandemic: spring blossoms, blue skies, laughter and love.” – Trinh Mai

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

Spirituality is Associated with the Long-Term Psychological Health of Cancer Survivors

Spirituality is Associated with the Long-Term Psychological Health of Cancer Survivors

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“spiritual or religious beliefs and practices create a positive mental attitude that may help a patient feel better and improve the well-being of family caregivers. Spiritual and religious well-being may help improve health and quality of life.” – National Cancer Institute

 

Surviving cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing experience. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotions and stress of a surviving cancer is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer.

 

Religion and spirituality become much more important to people when they survive cancer. It is thought that people take comfort in the spiritual when facing mortality. Hence, spirituality may be useful for the survivors of cancer to cope with their illness and the psychological difficulties resulting from the disease. Thus, there is a need to study the relationships of spirituality on the long-term psychological health of cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Influence of Daily Spiritual Experiences and Gender on Subjective Well-Being Over Time in Cancer Survivors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7500286/ ) Rudaz and colleagues garnered data from the longitudinal Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study

of adults that was collected in 2005 and again in 2015. They selected participants who reported having survived cancer and extracted data on spiritual and religious coping, daily spiritual experiences, life satisfaction, positive emotions, and negative emotions.

 

They report that for both men and women the higher the levels of spiritual experiences at baseline the higher the levels of religious coping, life satisfaction, and positive emotions, and the lower the levels of negative emotions at baseline and 10 years later. In addition, they found that spiritual experiences at baseline moderated the association of life satisfaction at baseline with life satisfaction 10 years later such that participants with low life satisfaction at baseline had a greater increase in life satisfaction 10 years later when they were higher in spiritual experiences. Also, they found that for men but not women that spiritual experiences at baseline moderated the association of positive emotions at baseline with positive emotions 10 years later such that men with low positive emotions at baseline had a greater increase in positive emotions 10 years later when they were higher in spiritual experiences.

 

These results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But they show that cancer survivors having high levels of spirituality is associated with better psychological health and this is maintained over time. They also show that spirituality is associated with better psychological health 10 years later in cancer survivors who were low in life satisfaction and positive emotions. Hence, spirituality is important for the psychological health of cancer survivors and this lasts over decades.

 

So, spirituality is associated with the long-term psychological health of cancer survivors.

 

“Patients reporting greater overall religiousness and spirituality also reported better physical health, greater ability to perform their usual daily tasks, and fewer physical symptoms of cancer and treatment.” – Science Daily

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Rudaz, M., Ledermann, T., & Grzywacz, J. G. (2019). The Influence of Daily Spiritual Experiences and Gender on Subjective Well-Being Over Time in Cancer Survivors. Archive for the psychology of religion = Archiv fur Religionspsychologie, 41(2), 159–171. https://doi.org/10.1177/0084672419839800

 

Abstract

Cancer survivors are at risk for poor subjective well-being, but the potential beneficial effect of daily spiritual experiences is unknown. Using data from the second and third wave of the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study, we examined the extent to which daily spiritual experiences at baseline moderate the association between subjective well-being at baseline and approximately 10 years later in cancer survivors (n = 288). Regression analyses, controlled for age, educational attainment, and religious/spiritual coping, showed that daily spiritual experiences moderated the association between life satisfaction at baseline and follow-up. Specifically, high spiritual experiences enhanced life satisfaction over time in cancer survivors with low life satisfaction at baseline. Also, daily spiritual experiences moderated the association between positive affect at baseline and follow-up, though this moderating effect was different for women and men. No moderating effect emerged for negative affect.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7500286/

 

Spirituality is Related to Healthy Behaviors and Psychological Well-Being

Spirituality is Related to Healthy Behaviors and Psychological Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Positive beliefs, comfort, and strength gained from religion, meditation, and prayer can contribute to well being. It may even promote healing. Improving your spiritual health may not cure an illness, but it may help you feel better. It also may prevent some health problems and help you cope better with illness, stress, or death.” – Robert Rich Jr.

 

Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. What evidence is there that these claims are in fact true? The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. But there is still a need to investigate the relationships of spirituality with health-related behaviors and psychological well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Relationship Between Spirituality, Health-Related Behavior, and Psychological Well-Being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7457021/ ) Bożek and colleagues recruited college students and had them complete measures of psychological well-being, spirituality, and health-related behaviors. The data were then subjected to a path analysis.

 

The analysis revealed that both spirituality and health-related behaviors were significantly positively directly related to psychological well-being, such that the higher the levels of each the higher the levels of well-being. But, in addition, spirituality indirectly affected psychological well-being by being positively related to health behaviors which, in turn, were positively related to well-being. They also found that these relationships were stronger in students who studied the psychosocial dimension of health and the human mind and spirit.

 

This study was correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. This is inevitable as it is nearly impossible to directly manipulate spirituality. But the results demonstrate that being high in spirituality is associated with psychological well-being in college students. In addition, spirituality is also clearly associated with engaging in behaviors that promote good health and these behaviors appear to also be associated with higher levels of psychological well-being. All of this suggests that spiritual students have better health and are happier.

 

So, spirituality is related to healthy behaviors and psychological well-being.

 

Many of the behaviors associated with wellness are key components of a healthy spiritual life. Examples include volunteerism, social responsibility, optimism, contributing to society, connectedness with others, feeling of belonging/being part of a group, and love of self/reason to care for self.” – Lauren Artess

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Bożek, A., Nowak, P. F., & Blukacz, M. (2020). The Relationship Between Spirituality, Health-Related Behavior, and Psychological Well-Being. Frontiers in psychology, 11, 1997. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01997

 

Abstract

Studies suggest a positive association of spirituality and health behaviors with well-being (especially subjective well-being), but still the precise character of such relationships between all these constructs remains unknown. The present study aims to explore the relations between spirituality, health-related behaviors, and psychological well-being in the context of acquired education. A questionnaire survey was conducted among 595 students from six different universities, whose study programs either focused on the human body or the human mind and spirit. Path analysis and linear regression were used to model the relationship between the examined constructs. The results show that both spirituality and health-related behaviors are positively related to psychological well-being, and that the relationship with spirituality is also mediated by health-related behaviors. Only spirituality is associated with the type of acquired education, especially in the group of students whose studies focus on the human mind and spirit. Moreover, spirituality in this group seems to display a stronger relationship with psychological well-being. These findings may contribute to the better understanding of some significant determinants of psychological well-being. They carry important implications for the faculty members responsible for curriculum preparation to account for teaching contents related to the conduct of a healthy lifestyle and to spiritual development.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7457021/

 

Post-Traumatic Growth and Religiosity Increase During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Post-Traumatic Growth and Religiosity Increase During the COVID-19 Pandemic

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Our stress lowers when we give our days ahead to a spiritual presence that will be with us ― one that never leaves. Leaning into one’s faith allows room for building a stronger sense of peace . . . and discover a spiritual awakening and divine love that will overpower any real or imagined quarantine we will experience.” – Shar Burgess

 

Modern living is stressful under the best of conditions. But with the COVID-19 pandemic the levels of stress have been markedly increased. These conditions markedly increase anxiety. This is true for everyone but especially for people with pre-existing conditions that makes them particularly vulnerable. The COVID-19 pandemic has also produced considerable economic stress, with loss of employment and steady income. For the poor this extends to high levels of food insecurity. This not only produces anxiety about the present but also for the future. It is important for people to engage in practices that can help them control their responses to the stress and their levels of anxiety. Spirituality, a sense of inner peace and harmony, and religiosity are known to help with a wide range of physical and psychological problems. So, it would make sense to investigate the relationship of spirituality and religiosity with the ability to cope with COVID-19.

 

In today’s Research News article “Finding Meaning in Hell. The Role of Meaning, Religiosity and Spirituality in Posttraumatic Growth During the Coronavirus Crisis in Spain.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567836/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1481182_69_Psycho_20201112_arts_A ) Prieto-Ursúa and colleagues recruited adults in Madrid, Spain during the Coronavirus pandemic and had them complete a questionnaire online that measured spirituality, religiosity, purpose in life; including general meaning, and establishment of specific goals, post-traumatic growth; including personal, interpersonal, social, and socio-political growth, and experiences with COVID-19.

 

They found that women had greater post-traumatic growth than men. People who knew someone affected by COVID-19 had significantly higher post-traumatic growth of all forms and religiosity and those who had experienced COVID-19 had even greater growth and religiosity. They also found that general meaning in life was associated with greater post-traumatic growth while having specific goals was not. In addition, they found that religiosity was associated with overall growth while spirituality was associated with personal growth once meaning was controlled for.

 

It needs to be kept in mind that these findings are correlational making conclusions regarding causation problematic. It’s also the case that there is no comparison condition. Of course, having a control group without COVID-19 would be practically impossible. This.is a natural experiment, taking advantage of a current very unusual event. We can learn from it but must be careful not to form strong conclusions.

 

Speculatively, these results suggest that trauma is associated with higher levels of growth especially in women. Trauma appears to increase religiosity and religiosity appear to promote growth. It is possible that religion provides a refuge to help with coping with the trauma, Spirituality, on the other hand, appears to be associated with greater meaning in life and this in turn is associated with greater personal growth.

 

The findings suggest that trauma can promote personal, interpersonal, social, and socio-political growth. They also show that having meaning in life is important for that growth. In the face of a pandemic, rather than withdrawing, people strengthen. This attests to the resilience of the human spirit.

 

So, post-traumatic growth and religiosity increase during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

“Sometimes when we experience grief, we feel shocked, anxious, fearful, sad, powerless, angry, or helpless. What we need to remember is that all these feelings and many others are normal. Being able to acknowledge where we are emotionally and spiritually can be empowering.” – Together

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Prieto-Ursúa M and Jódar R (2020) Finding Meaning in Hell. The Role of Meaning, Religiosity and Spirituality in Posttraumatic Growth During the Coronavirus Crisis in Spain. Front. Psychol. 11:567836. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567836

 

ABSTRACT

Coronavirus has blighted our world, hitting some countries harder than others. Morbidity and mortality rates make Madrid one of the worst affected places so far in the wake of the coronavirus. The aim of this study was to analyze the presence of post-traumatic growth during the coronavirus crisis and to understand the contribution of meaning, religiosity, and spirituality to such growth; 1,492 people completed the questionnaire; N = 1,091 residents in Madrid were selected for the study. We assessed the personal experience of COVID-19, the Spirituality, Religiosity, Meaning trough Purpose in Life-10 test, and Posttraumatic Growth (Community Post-Traumatic Growth Scale). Results showed significant differences for all measures of growth, with higher values in women. Sex and direct impact of COVID-19 accounted for 4.4% of the variance of growth. The different dimensions of meaning contribute differently to growth. Only religiosity was associated with total growth when meaning was included in the model. This same pattern of results is obtained in models predicting interpersonal and social growth. However, in predicting personal growth, it is spirituality that predicts this type of growth once meaning has been previously controlled for, while religiosity fails to reach a statistically significant level. Our results reflect the interest in maintaining the distinction between spirituality and religiosity, their different roles in traumatic growth and the different dimensions on which each has an effect. Finally, it confirms the importance of meaning in post-traumatic growth, especially the dimension of life goals and purposes.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.567836/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1481182_69_Psycho_20201112_arts_A

 

Improve Well-Being with Mandala Drawing

Improve Well-Being with Mandala Drawing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mandala means “sacred circle” in Sanskrit, which is a traditional concept employed in meditation and a ritual symbol that represents the universe in Hinduism and Buddism. Today, Mandala has evolved into a powerful art therapy exercise that allows the creator to enjoy some peace and quiet by simply crafting colourful geometric patterns within a circular shape. “ – Helen Yu

 

Mindfulness practices have been shown to have a large number of beneficial effects on the psychological, emotional, and physical health of the individual and is helpful in the treatment of mental and physical illness. They have also been shown to effect a large number of physiological and psychological processes, including emotion regulationattentionsensory awareness, decentering, and reappraisal. Mindfulness practices have been shown to be particularly effective in reducing anxiety.

 

Recently, adult coloring books have become popular as a mindfulness practice. It is thought that immersion in the creative yet structured and safe process of coloring will increase mindfulness and in turn produce the benefits of mindfulness. Mandala drawing is an ancient mindfulness practice. But the effects of mandala drawing on the well-being of participants has not been adequately tested scientifically.

 

In today’s Research News article “Cooperative and Individual Mandala Drawing Have Different Effects on Mindfulness, Spirituality, and Subjective Well-Being.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.564430/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1456740_69_Psycho_20201013_arts_A ) Liu and colleagues recruited healthy college students and randomly assigned them to mandala drawing either alone (individual) or in groups of 4 (cooperative). They met for 5 weekly, 90-minute sessions in which they received training and drew mandalas in provided blank circles. They were measured before and after practice for mindfulness, spirituality, subjective well-being, satisfaction with life, and positive and negative emotions.

 

They found that neither group had significant increases in mindfulness while both groups had significant increases in spirituality with the cooperative group showing significantly larger increases. They also found that the cooperative condition produced a significant increase in positive emotions and subjective well-being while the individual condition did not. Both groups had significant decreases in negative emotions. They also found that the higher the levels of positive emotions, the higher the levels of mindfulness, spirituality, satisfaction with life, and subjective well-being.

 

These results are interesting and demonstrate that mandala drawing is beneficial for the psychological health and spirituality of participants. It does not appear that mindfulness mediates these effects as there was no increase in mindfulness produced by either individual or cooperative mandala drawing.

 

The results show that mandala drawing in a cooperative, group, format produces superior benefits to those produced by individual mandala drawing, including more positive emotions and greater subjective well-being. Since participating in a group can be more fun it would be expected that positive emotions would increase further and the group socialization would reduce loneliness and produce greater subjective well-being. So, it would appear that mandala drawing is beneficial by itself but adding a social component increases the benefits.

 

So, improve well-being with mandala drawing.

 

Each person’s life is like a mandala – a vast limitless circle. We stand in the centre of our own circle, and everything we see, hear and think forms the mandala of our life… everything that shows up in your mandala is a vehicle for your awakening.” ―Pema Chödrön

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Liu C, Chen H, Liu C-Y, Lin R-T and Chiou W-K (2020) Cooperative and Individual Mandala Drawing Have Different Effects on Mindfulness, Spirituality, and Subjective Well-Being. Front. Psychol. 11:564430. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.564430

 

Mandala drawing was first practiced by Tibetan buddhists and then developed by Carl Gustav Jung, who felt certain that mandala drawing has the function of integrating psychological division, enhancing psychological harmony, and preserving personality integrity. Previous studies on mandala drawing have mainly focused on alleviating people’s negative emotions, such as anxiety and depression. Therefore, this study explored the effect and mechanism of mandala drawing on the improvement of subjective well-being (SWB), mindfulness, and spirituality from positive psychology’s viewpoint and compared the different effects of cooperative mandala drawing (CMD) and individual mandala drawing (IMD) on mindfulness, spirituality, and SWB. A total of 76 students were recruited from Chang Gung University, and the aforementioned three main variables were measured before and after the coloring experiment. The results indicated that both CMD and IMD significantly enhanced the subjects’ spirituality. Compared with IMD, CMD has a more significant improvement and promotion effect on SWB of subjects by affecting PA, while IMD had no significant effect on PA, and the enhancement effect of SWB was weaker than that of CMD. Mindfulness, spirituality, and SWB all positively correlated with each other. This study highlights the mechanism of mandala drawing and the theoretical understanding of the relationship between mindfulness and SWB. Mandala drawing especially CMD has a positive effect on spirituality and SWB, which may provide individuals with a simple and easy method to improve their happiness.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.564430/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1456740_69_Psycho_20201013_arts_A

 

Characteristics of the Oneness Experience in Experienced Meditators

Characteristics of the Oneness Experience in Experienced Meditators

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Imagine there is no past or future, only now. Imagine there is no space or time, just an unbounded eternity. Imagine endless peace, harmony, and unconditional love. Imagine no fear and equality in all things. This is Oneness.” – Roger Gabriel

 

Millions of people worldwide seek out transcendent experiences by engaging in practices, such as meditation, yoga, and prayer. Others use drugs such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, ayahuasca and psilocybin to induce these experiences. Transcendent experiences have many characteristics which are unique to the experiencer, their religious context, and their present situation. But, the common, central feature of transcendence is a sense of oneness, that all things are contained in a single thing, a sense of union with the universe and/or God and everything in existence. This includes a loss of the personal self. What they used to refer to as the self is experienced as just a part of an integrated whole. People who have had these experiences report feeling interconnected with everything else in a sense of oneness with all things. Although transcendent experiences can vary widely, they all contain this experience of oneness.

 

Unfortunately, there is very little systematic research on the oneness experience. In today’s Research News article “Understanding the Nature of Oneness Experience in Meditators Using Collective Intelligence Methods.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02092/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A ) Van Lente and colleagues recruited participants who had meditated for at least 5 years and who had experienced “oneness”. They met in groups on 5 occasions of about 3 hours each and discussed the nature of the “oneness” experience employing a structured technique called Interactive Management (IM).

 

The participants first individually generated ideas about the “oneness” experience. They then reviewed as a group the ideas generated and clarified and categorized the ideas. They then voted individually on the 5 best ideas of “oneness self-perceptions they believed most characterized their experience both during meditation and in their everyday experience in the world”. Finally, they investigated the relationships among the ideas regarding the “oneness” experience.

 

The participants generated 130 ideas about the “oneness” experience. These were analyzed and summarized into categories. From this analysis they concluded that “oneness” experiences involved perception, affect, cognition, motivation, action, and interpersonal relations. The most influential categories of oneness experience were unboundedness, identity–perception change, time–perception change, wholeness, and changes in action orientation.

 

Unboundedness referred to the perception that there were no boundaries between objects as they were seen as all together in a single entity. The idea of identity–perception change identified the self as also unbounded and not separate from everything else, but part of the whole. The idea of time–perception change was that there was only a timeless present moment. In the “oneness” experience there is no past or future, only now. The idea of wholeness involves seeing everything as part of a greater whole that is unbounded, integrated, and singular. Finally, the idea of changes in action orientation indicates a flow to experienced reality such that experiences flow seamlessly and all together. All of this led to the affective experience of total well-being.

 

These are interesting results produced by a structured process to determine the nature of “oneness” experiences that occurred in experienced meditators. In essence, in these experiences, they perceived a totality of experience occurring only in the present moment that involved everything integrated together, including the individuals themselves, and flowing seamlessly together. The ideas generated were very similar to ideas generated by individual anecdotes of “oneness” experiences or psychometric analysis.

 

It should be mentioned that the “oneness” experience is just that, an experience, and like all experiences cannot be adequately captured by words and concepts. The present analysis does the best it can at producing a conceptual analysis of the “oneness” experience. But inevitably it falls short of capturing the actual experiences of the individuals. In the literature on the “oneness” experience, it is referred to an ineffable, unable to be described adequately in words. To truly know the “oneness” experience it must be experienced.

 

Oneness is an experience that transcends the mind. When we experience oneness, we feel a connection with everything in existence on every level. In other words, we feel ‘at one’ with all things.” –  Mateo Sol

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Van Lente E and Hogan MJ (2020) Understanding the Nature of Oneness Experience in Meditators Using Collective Intelligence Methods. Front. Psychol. 11:2092. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02092

 

Research on meditation and mindfulness practice has flourished in recent years. While much of this research has focused on well-being outcomes associated with mindfulness practice, less research has focused on how perception of self may change as a result of mindfulness practice, or whether these changes in self-perception may be mechanisms of mindfulness in action. This is somewhat surprising given that mindfulness derives from traditions often described as guiding people to realize and experience the non-separation of self from the world or its “oneness” with the whole of reality. The current study used a collective intelligence methodology, Interactive Management (IM), to explore the nature of oneness experiences. Five IM sessions were conducted with five separate groups of experienced meditators. Participants generated, clarified, and selected oneness self-perceptions they believed most characterized their experience both during meditation and in their everyday experience in the world. Each group also developed structural models describing how highly ranked aspects of oneness self-perceptions are interrelated in a system. Consistent themes and categories of oneness experience appeared across the five IM sessions, with changes in the sense of space (unboundedness), time, identity, wholeness, and flow highlighted as most influential. Results are discussed in light of emerging theory and research on oneness self-perception and non-dual awareness.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.02092/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1437459_69_Psycho_20200922_arts_A

 

Spirituality is Associated with Better Psychological Health of Adolescents with Cancer

Spirituality is Associated with Better Psychological Health of Adolescents with Cancer

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Spirituality plays a significant role for adolescents with cancer as it contributes to increased comfort and calmness, and better coping mechanisms when confronted with the illness, which indirectly improves the adolescent’s quality of life.” – Sembiring Lina Mahayati

 

Receiving a diagnosis of cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing and potentially life-ending experience. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotions and stress of a cancer diagnosis is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer diagnosis. Adolescents with cancer are particularly vulnerable with high levels of anxiety, depression, fatigue, and pain interference.

 

Religion and spirituality become much more important to people when they’re diagnosed with cancer or when living with cancer. It is thought that people take comfort in the spiritual when facing mortality. Hence, spirituality and mindfulness may be useful tools for the survivors of cancer to cope with their illness. Thus, there is a need to study the relationships of spirituality on the ability of adolescent cancer survivors to positively adjust to their situation.

 

In today’s Research News article “.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7298609/ ) Grossoehme and colleagues recruited adolescents, aged 14 to 21 years, who were diagnosed with cancer. They had them complete measures of spirituality, feeling God’s presence; praying privately; attending religious services; identifying as religious; identifying as spiritual, emotional distress–anxiety; emotional distress–depressive symptoms; fatigue; and pain interference, health-related quality of life

 

They found that the higher the levels of feeling God’s presence and identifying as a very religious person the lower the levels of anxiety, depressive symptoms, and fatigue. Structural equation modelling revealed that the levels of feeling God’s presence and identifying as a very religious person also were indirectly associated with anxiety, depressive symptoms, and fatigue via a positive association with a sense of meaning and peace. That is, the greater the feelings God’s presence and religiosity the greater the feelings of peace and meaningfulness in life and these feelings were in turn negatively associated with negative emotional states.

 

These results are correlational and as such no conclusions about causation can be definitively made. But the results clearly show that there are relationships between being spiritual and religious and better emotional states in adolescent cancer victims. They also suggest that this relationship is mediated by feelings of meaningfulness and peace. It could be speculated that these relationships occur due to causal connections and interpreted that being spiritual produces a state of peacefulness and meaning in life that counteracts the negative emotions associated with cancer. It remains for future research to determine if increasing spirituality would lead to better emotional adjustments to a cancer diagnosis.

 

Hence, spirituality is associated with better psychological health of adolescents with cancer.

 

As is true with older cancer survivors, spirituality is related to many aspects of well-being for AYA survivors, but relations are more consistent for meaning/peace and struggle.” – Crystal Park

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Grossoehme, D. H., Friebert, S., Baker, J. N., Tweddle, M., Needle, J., Chrastek, J., Thompkins, J., Wang, J., Cheng, Y. I., & Lyon, M. E. (2020). Association of Religious and Spiritual Factors With Patient-Reported Outcomes of Anxiety, Depressive Symptoms, Fatigue, and Pain Interference Among Adolescents and Young Adults With Cancer. JAMA network open, 3(6), e206696. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.6696

 

Key Points

Question

Among adolescents and young adults with cancer, is there an association between spirituality and patient-reported outcomes, and are these outcomes associated with a sense of meaning, peace, and comfort provided by faith?

Findings

In this cross-sectional study of 126 adolescents and young adults with cancer, structural equation modeling revealed that meaning and peace were associated with aspects of spirituality and religiousness as well as anxiety, depressive, and fatigue symptoms.

Meaning

In this study, participants’ sense of meaning and peace was associated with religiousness and with anxiety and depression, possibly representing an underappreciated intervention target.

Question

Among adolescents and young adults with cancer, is there an association between spirituality and patient-reported outcomes, and are these outcomes associated with a sense of meaning, peace, and comfort provided by faith?

Findings

In this cross-sectional study of 126 adolescents and young adults with cancer, structural equation modeling revealed that meaning and peace were associated with aspects of spirituality and religiousness as well as anxiety, depressive, and fatigue symptoms.

Meaning

In this study, participants’ sense of meaning and peace was associated with religiousness and with anxiety and depression, possibly representing an underappreciated intervention target.

Go to:

Abstract

Importance

The associations of spiritual and religious factors with patient-reported outcomes among adolescents with cancer are unknown.

Objective

To model the association of spiritual and religious constructs with patient-reported outcomes of anxiety, depressive symptoms, fatigue, and pain interference.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This cross-sectional study used baseline data, collected from 2016 to 2019, from an ongoing 5-year randomized clinical trial being conducted at 4 tertiary-referral pediatric medical centers in the US. A total of 366 adolescents were eligible for the clinical trial, and 126 were randomized; participants had to be aged 14 to 21 years at enrollment and be diagnosed with any form of cancer. Exclusion criteria included developmental delay, scoring greater than 26 on the Beck Depression Inventory II, non-English speaking, or unaware of cancer diagnosis.

Exposures

Spiritual experiences, values, and beliefs; religious practices; and overall self-ranking of spirituality’s importance.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Variables were taken from the Brief Multidimensional Measurement of Religiousness/Spirituality (ie, feeling God’s presence, daily prayer, religious service attendance, being very religious, and being very spiritual) and the spiritual well-being subscales of the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (meaning/peace and faith). Predefined outcome variables were anxiety, depressive symptoms, fatigue, and pain interference from Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System pediatric measures.

Results

A total of 126 individuals participated (72 [57.1%] female participants; 100 [79.4%] white participants; mean [SD] age, 16.9 [1.9] years). Structural equation modeling showed that meaning and peace were inversely associated with anxiety (β = –7.94; 95% CI, –12.88 to –4.12), depressive symptoms (β = –10.49; 95% CI, –15.92 to –6.50), and fatigue (β = –8.90; 95% CI, –15.34 to –3.61). Feeling God’s presence daily was indirectly associated with anxiety (β = –3.37; 95% CI, –6.82 to –0.95), depressive symptoms (β = –4.50; 95% CI, –8.51 to –1.40), and fatigue (β = –3.73; 95% CI, –8.03 to –0.90) through meaning and peace. Considering oneself very religious was indirectly associated with anxiety (β = –2.81; 95% CI, –6.06 to –0.45), depressive symptoms (β = −3.787; 95% CI, –7.68 to –0.61), and fatigue (β = –3.11, 95% CI, –7.31 to –0.40) through meaning and peace. Considering oneself very spiritual was indirectly associated with anxiety (β = 2.11; 95% CI, 0.05 to 4.95) and depression (β = 2.8, 95% CI, 0.07 to 6.29) through meaning and peace. No associations were found between spiritual scales and pain interference.

Conclusions and Relevance

In this study, multiple facets of spirituality and religiousness were associated with anxiety, depression, and fatigue, all of which were indirectly associated with the participant’s sense of meaning and peace, which is a modifiable process. Although these results do not establish a causal direction, they do suggest palliative interventions addressing meaning-making, possibly including a spiritual or religious dimension, as a novel focus for intervention development.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7298609/Importance