To assess the importance of spirituality and religious coping among outpatients with a DSM-IV diagnosis of schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder living in three countries.
A total of 276 outpatients (92 from Geneva, Switzerland, 121 from Trois-Rivières, Canada, and 63 from Durham, North Carolina), aged 18-65, were administered a semi-structured interview on the role of spirituality and religiousness in their lives and to cope with their illness.
Religion is important for outpatients in each of the three country sites, and religious involvement is higher than in the general population. Religion was helpful (i.e., provided a positive sense of self and positive coping with the illness) among 87% of the participants and harmful (a source of despair and suffering) among 13%. Helpful religion was associated with better social, clinical and psychological status. The opposite was observed for the harmful aspects of religion. In addition, religion sometimes conflicted with psychiatric treatment.
These results indicate that outpatients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder often use spirituality and religion to cope with their illness, basically positively, yet sometimes negatively. These results underscore the importance of clinicians taking into account the spiritual and religious lives of patients with schizophrenia.