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Spiritual Faith Improves Cardiac Outcomes

A recent study presented at the 114th annual convention of the American Psychological Association (APA) finds that a faith-based positive religious belief helps psychological well-being after cardiac surgery. Furthermore, having negative religious thoughts and struggles may hinder recovery.

Emerging research has suggested a complex relationship between religiosity and health-related well-being. In this study, the mechanisms through which religious coping styles influenced the postoperative recovery of 309 cardiac patients were followed by researchers.

According to lead author Amy L. Ai, PhD, of the University of Washington and coauthor Crystal Park, PhD, of the University of Connecticut, the coping attitudes were studied as the patients recovered from surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center.

The researchers found that perceived social support and hope contributed to less depression and anxiety for postoperative patients who used positive religious coping styles in their every day lives.

“The contribution of social support to hope suggests that those who perceive more support at this critical moment may feel more hopeful about their recovery,” said Dr. Ai. Acts of positive religious coping include religious forgiveness, seeking spiritual support, collaborative religious coping (fellowship with others who share the same beliefs), spiritual connection, religious purification and thoughts of religious benevolence.

Negative coping styles are associated with the inability of patients to protect their psychological well-being against the distress of depression and anxiety that tend to predict poor postoperative recovery in the literature. This relationship is related to poor mental health at both preoperative and postoperative times, indicating ongoing faith-based struggles.

Negative coping patterns consist of spiritual discontent, thoughts of punishing God, insecurity, demonic thoughts, interpersonal religious discontent, religious doubt, and discontented spiritual relations.

“These pathways appear to be key in understanding how religious coping styles may be helpful or harmful to a person’s ability to handle stressful situations. These findings imply that health and mental health professionals should be more attentive to faith factors as inspirational or motivational springboards in some contexts,” said Dr. Ai.

Source: American Psychological Association

Spiritual Faith Improves Cardiac Outcomes

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Spiritual Faith Improves Cardiac Outcomes. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 23, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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