Aging is associated with deterioration in health and well-being, but previous research suggests that this can be attenuated by maintaining group memberships and the valued social identities associated with them. In this regard, religious identification may be especially beneficial in helping individuals withstand the challenges of aging, partly because religious identity serves as a basis for a wider social network of other group memberships. This paper aims to examine relationships between religion (identification and group membership) and well-being among older adults. The contribution of having and maintaining multiple group memberships in mediating these relationships is assessed, and also compared to patterns associated with other group memberships (social and exercise).
Study 1 (N = 42) surveyed older adults living in residential care homes in Canada, who completed measures of religious identity, other group memberships, and depression. Study 2 (N = 7021) longitudinally assessed older adults in the UK on similar measures, but with the addition of perceived physical health.
In Study 1, religious identification was associated with fewer depressive symptoms, and membership in multiple groups mediated that relationship. However, no relationships between social or exercise groups and mental health were evident. Study 2 replicated these patterns, but additionally, maintaining multiple group memberships over time partially mediated the relationship between religious group membership and physical health.
Together these findings suggest that religious social networks are an especially valuable source of social capital among older adults, supporting well-being directly and by promoting additional group memberships (including those that are non-religious).
Symbolic healing is a complex phenomenon that is still relatively poorly understood. This paper documents a process of symbolic healing which is occurring in Canadian penitentiaries, and which involves Aboriginal offenders in cultural awareness and educational programs. The situation is compounded, however, by the existence of offenders from diverse Aboriginal cultural backgrounds with differing degrees of orientation to Aboriginal and Euro-Canadian cultures. Participants must first receive the necessary education to allow them to identify with the healing symbols so that healing may ensue, and both the healers and the patients must engage in a process of redefining their cultures in search of a common cultural base.
This paper examines a number of demographic and sociocultural factors (e.g., age, marital status, family size, religion, religious assiduity, sex-role ideology) as predictors of women's attitudes toward abortion, using data from the Canadian Fertility Survey of 1984. The findings suggest that women's abortion attitudes are to a greater extent based on ideological positions. It appears that anti-abortion stance affects those women who are religious, presumably by increasing the relationship between their general sex-role ideological stances and abortion attitudes. Abortion attitudes also vary according to a woman's education, her size, and province/region of residence.
The relationships of personal acculturation and of personal-family acculturation match to depressive symptoms were investigated in a sample of 68 Muslim university students. Two dimensions of personal and family acculturation were assessed: heritage and mainstream culture identification. Participants completed the Vancouver Index of Acculturation (Ryder, Alden, & Paulhus, 2000 ) and the depressive disorder subscale of the Psychiatric Diagnostic Screening Questionnaire (Zimmerman & Mattia, 1999 ). For personal acculturation, individuals with high personal heritage culture identification reported fewer lifetime (but not past-year) depressive symptoms. In contrast, individuals with high personal mainstream culture identification reported more past-year (but not lifetime) depressive symptoms. The hypothesis that a match between personal and family acculturation orientation would be associated with fewer depressive symptoms was supported for heritage culture identification only. For past-year depression, the two match conditions (low or high personal and family heritage culture identification) were associated with significantly fewer depressive symptoms than a low personal/high family mismatch but did not differ from a high personal/low family mismatch. For lifetime depression, a high personal/high family match was associated with significantly fewer depressive symptoms than all other conditions. Findings suggests that, for Muslims, a match of high personal and high family heritage culture identification may act as a protective factor for the experience of depressive symptoms both in the short term (past year) and in the long term (lifetime).
The aim of this paper was to describe testing a Finnish version of the assessment of strategies in families (ASF) instrument and its construct validity and reliability in Finnish families. The ASF instrument is based on Friedemann's framework of systemic organization and the version used in this study consists of 25 items, each containing three statements. The instrument was developed to estimate family functioning in reaching the four targets of the framework of systemic organization. It provides sub-scores for the targets, family stability (system maintenance and coherence), family growth (system change and individuation), control (system maintenance and system change) and spirituality (individuation and coherence). Data were collected from patients attending the outpatient clinics of pulmonary and rheumatic diseases (N=196). Questionnaires were given to patients capable of understanding the questions and they returned questionnaires by mail directly to researchers. Construct validity was tested with exploratory factor analysis. Factor analysis was done with 22 items. The four factor solution was best suited. Two items were eliminated because of low factor loadings and crossloading. The total of 20 items were left in the instrument. Crohnbach's alpha was used to measure internal consistency. It was computed for each target separately and the total tool. There were discrepancies in the assignment of process dimensions which were expected because of cultural perceptions. The total instrument had a reliability of 0.85. The result of the analyses was a pretested tool with subscales for stability, growth, control and spirituality that have acceptable reliability and concept validity. Less satisfactory was the small number of items representing individuation. Another weakness is the lack of statistical distinction between system maintenance and coherence. The instrument is also usable in these subscales, but it needs further development and retesting. Items need to be added to express individuation, possibly some others. The new items will be formulated freely, paying attention to culture. However, the tool appears good enough to be used as measurement in various research studies.
Data from a large epidemiologic survey were examined to determine the relationship of religious practice (worship service attendance), spiritual and religious self-perception, and importance (salience) to depressive symptoms. Data were obtained from 70,884 respondents older than 15 years from the Canadian National Population Health Survey (Wave II, 1996-1997). Logistic regression was used to examine the relationship of the religious/spiritual variables to depressive symptoms while controlling for demographic, social, and health variables. More frequent worship service attendees had significantly fewer depressive symptoms. In contrast, those who stated spiritual values or faith were important or perceived themselves to be spiritual/religious had higher levels of depressive symptoms, even after controlling for potential mediating and confounding factors. It is evident that spirituality/religion has an important effect on depressive symptoms, but this study underscores the complexity of this relationship. Longitudinal studies are needed to help elucidate mechanisms and the order and direction of effects.
Several studies have suggested that religion and spirituality are important for overcoming psychological distress and adjusting mentally to cancer, but these studies did not differentiate between spiritual well-being and specific aspects of faith. We examined the extent to which spiritual well-being, the faith dimension of spiritual well-being and aspects of performed faith are associated with distress and mental adjustment among cancer patients.
In a cross-sectional design, 1043 survivors of various cancers filled in a questionnaire on spiritual well-being (FACIT-Sp-12), specific aspects of faith ('belief in a god', 'belief in a god with whom I can talk' and 'experiences of god or a higher power'), religious community and church attendance (DUREL), distress (POMS-SF), adjustment to cancer (Mini-MAC) and sociodemographic factors. Linear regression models were used to analyze the associations between exposure (spiritual well-being and specific faith aspects) and outcome (distress and adjustment to cancer) with adjustment for age, gender, cancer diagnosis and physical and social well-being.
Higher spiritual well-being was associated with less total distress (ß = -0.79, CI -0.92; -0.66) and increased adjustment to cancer (fighting spirit, anxious preoccupation, helplessness-hopelessness). Specific aspects of faith were associated with high confusion-bewilderment and tension-anxiety, but also lower score on vigor-activity, and with higher anxious-preoccupation, both higher and lower cognitive avoidance, but also more fighting spirit.
As hypothesized, spiritual well-being were associated with less distress and better mental adjustment. However, specific aspects of faith were both positively and negatively associated with distress and mental adjustment. The results illustrate the complexity of associations between spiritual well-being and specific aspects of faith with psychological function among cancer survivors.
To identify factors which may influence attitudes to spiritual care, test the relevance of these identified influencing factors in a Swedish nursing context, and replicate a part of a previous study by Strang et al. (Journal of Clinical Nursing 2002;11:48-57) dealing with attitudes to spiritual care in a holistic perspective. A questionnaire was handed out to all nursing staff at a Swedish oncology clinic (n=93) excluding the radiation therapy ward. Data were obtained from 68 nurses or nursing auxiliaries.
(i) Literature review of international research reports concerning spiritual care in a nursing context. (ii) Construction of a questionnaire comprising 17 questions with given alternatives based on the previous literature study. (iii) Operationalization of the concept 'attitudes to spiritual care' into some more easily measurable questions through identification in earlier research reports of conceivable indicators of attitudes to spiritual care. (iv) Construction of a suggestion for a definition of the concept 'spiritual care' from the results of Strang et al. (2002) to be used in the questionnaire. (v) Statistical analysis of the data from the questionnaire and a comparison with previous studies.
The replicating part of the study are mainly in accordance with Strang et al. (2002) and lead to the conclusions that holistic care (i) is desirable, (ii) should include spiritual needs of the patients and (iii) is not yet realized in Swedish health care. The identified influencing factors are relevant in a Swedish nursing context. The factors influencing the largest number of indicators of attitudes to spiritual care are 'non-organized religiousness' and 'degree of comfort while providing spiritual care'. Other influencing factors are: 'belief in God', 'belief in life after death', 'organized religiousness', 'profession', and 'the perceived degree of education in spiritual care'.
Knowledge of attitudes towards spiritual care among nursing staff and factors influencing these attitudes will improve the possibilities of meeting the spiritual needs of patients.
The purpose of this article is to describe the role of spirituality as a coping mechanism in the lives of parents of children with cancer. This exploratory study was conducted using a dominant-less dominant research design with phenomenology as the guiding theoretical orientation. Twelve parents (eight women and four men) were interviewed. Spirituality was described as playing a key role in the coping repertoire of these parents. In particular, spirituality's influence was described in both a religious and secularized manner with both aspects having a positive influence on coping behaviors among these parents. Health care professionals and nurses in particular have a role to play in facilitating access to spiritual resources as well as acknowledging and accepting the spiritual practices of the families they serve.