Faith May Help Stroke Patients Cope
Study: Less Emotional Distress in Those With Strong Religious Beliefs
WebMD News Archive
Feb. 15, 2007 -- Strong religious beliefs can protect stroke patients from
emotional distress, perhaps aiding recovery, according to a new Italian
Emotional distress, particularly depression, has been shown in other
research to negatively affect recovery during a stroke patient's
hospitalization or after discharge.
In this study, researchers from Rome interviewed 132 survivors of stroke --
median age: 72.
They asked about the survivors' religious beliefs and spirituality. They
also evaluated them for anxiety and depression.
Their finding: The higher the anxiety and depression scores, the lower the
religious and spirituality beliefs.
The association held even after the researchers adjusted for other factors
that could affect emotional distress, such as the degree of physical
functioning after the stroke, marital status, and living conditions.
The study was done by Salvatore Giaquinto, MD, of the San Raffaele Pisana
Rehabilitation Center in Rome, and fellow researchers.
Behind the Link
Exactly why strong faith is linked to less distress is not known.
The researchers speculate that people who are active in religious activities
may have more social support, and that can positively influence the outcomes in
stroke as well as other illnesses.
While most of the patients surveyed were Roman Catholic, the researchers
note that religious coping mechanisms have been identified in non-Catholic
people as well.
The researchers suggest that the degree of faith and religious beliefs be
considered in post-stroke rehab, and that patients be provided spiritual
assistance if desired.