Health :: Turning to Religion May Ease Medical Crises

Religious faith helps people cope with stressful medical experiences such as heart surgery, new research suggests.

“These findings imply that health and mental health professionals should be more attentive to faith factors as inspirational or motivational springboards in some contexts,” study lead author Amy L. Ai of the University of Washington, Seattle, said in a prepared statement.

Her team was expected to present its findings Thursday at the American Psychological Association’s annual convention in New Orleans.

The study of 309 cardiac patients concluded that positive religious beliefs and resources gave people a sense of hope and social support. On the other hand, faith-based struggles and negative religious thoughts — religious doubt, resentment against God and other reactions — may hinder recovery.

“These pathways appear to be key in understanding how religious coping styles may be helpful or harmful to a person’s ability to handle stressful situations,” Ai said.

Perceived social support and hope stemming from spiritual beliefs were linked to less post-op depression and anxiety for patients who used “positive religious coping styles” in their everyday lives, the study found.

“Those who perceive more support at this critical moment may feel more hopeful about their recovery,” Ai said.

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