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Negative Spiritual Belief Linked to Worse Health Outcomes

Link seen for individuals with heterogeneous health conditions, regardless of positive spiritual beliefs

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Any degree of negative spiritual belief is associated with worse health outcomes, regardless of positive spiritual beliefs, according to a study published in the Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health.

Angela Jones, Ph.D., from St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Mo., and colleagues examined the extent to which any negative spiritual beliefs are associated with health outcomes, regardless of one’s positive spiritual beliefs. One hundred ninety-nine individuals with heterogeneous health conditions (traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, cancer, primary care disorders, and healthy) were included. Two groups were identified: 61 participants in a negative-spirituality group that self-endorsed any degree of negative spiritual belief and 138 in a no-negative-spirituality group with no endorsement of any degree of negative spiritual belief.

The researchers found that the negative-spirituality group had significantly less positive spirituality, less frequent religious practices, and a lower level of forgiveness; they also endorsed significantly worse bodily pain, physical health, and mental health. There was also a significant correlation for negative spirituality with worse physical health, mental health, and pain, while positive spirituality only correlated with better mental health.

“The need exists to develop targeted interventions to specifically address negative spiritual beliefs which have been shown to be related to increased pain and physical disability in several studies,” the authors write.

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