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