By On December 4th, 2013

Religious Coping Improves The Outcomes of Psychiatric Patients

Cross BookmarkWhile some counselors and psychiatrists suggest a nonreligious approach to mental health management and treatment, researchers have confirmed what Christian Counselors have long know to be true; religious coping can significantly improve the outcomes for individuals seeking short-term treatment for psychiatric illness. The findings come from a study undertaken by Harvard Medical School researchers at McLean Hospital and published in the Nov. 30 issue of Psychiatric Research.

Dr. David Rosmarin, an HMS instructor and clinician in the Department of Pscyhiatry at McLean, explained their results stating:

The outcomes suggest that people who use negative religious coping, such as thinking that God is punishing them or that the devil is behind their condition, were at greater risk for suicide prior to treatment. However, people who use positive religious coping techniques, such as prayer and acceptance of “God’s plan,” performed significantly better in short-term psychiatric treatment than those who do not use it.

Rosmarin continued, “Harnessing spiritual resources in treatment may lead to lower suicide rates and better treatment outcomes for psychiatric patients.”

Medical Xpress reports the study examined 47 patients at the Behavioral Health Partial Hospital Program at McLean who had been recruited over a one-year period. Every patient was surveyed on measures of religious involvement, religious coping, and suicidality before receiving treatment. The researchers also assessed psychosis, depression, anxiety, and psychological well-being throughout treatment.

The participants showed varying degrees of religious engagement, with 8 percent calling themselves very religious and 20 percent self-identifying as religious. However, almost 85 percent of the individuals indicated they used spirituality as a coping mechanism for dealing with their condition and stress.

“We were surprised to find that religious coping was so common in our sample, even among those who are not themselves religious in any way,” said Rosmarin. “This is one of the first studies looking at religious coping among psychiatric patients and we are hopeful that this will lead to further study of religion and spirituality with larger samples.”

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