Background: Research indicates that religion may have a positive effect on coping and possibly enhance clinical outcomes. This study aims to determine the level of religious interest of psychiatric inpatients and to assess whether religious commitment has an impact on selected outcome variables.
Methods: There were 88 consecutive adult patients (50% men) who were admitted to a Canadian tertiary care psychiatry inpatient unit and were interviewed about their religious beliefs and practices. Patients with a Beck Depression score of 12 or more were included for outcome analysis.
Results: A total of 59% believed in a God who rewards and punishes, 27% had a high frequency of worship attendance, and 35% prayed once or more daily. More frequent worship attenders had less severe depressive symptoms, shorter current length of stay, higher satisfaction with life, and lower rates of current and lifetime alcohol abuse (P < 0.05), when compared with those with less frequent or no worship attendance. In contrast, private spirituality was associated with lower depressive symptoms and current alcohol use only (P < 0.05), and prayer frequency had no significant associations.
Discussion: This study indicates that certain religious practices may protect against severity of symptoms, hospital use, and enhance life satisfaction among psychiatric inpatients. This is the first known Canadian study that examines religious commitment among psychiatric inpatients.