Social support and religiosity as coping strategies for anxiety in hospitalized cardiac patients

Ann Behav Med. 2004 Dec;28(3):179-85. doi: 10.1207/s15324796abm2803_6.


Background: Prospective studies have demonstrated that anxiety is associated with an increased risk of mortality and sudden cardiac death. There is therefore a need to understand what factors contribute to anxiety in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD).

Purpose: This study examined whether social support and religiosity are individually or jointly associated with lower anxiety in cardiac patients.

Methods: Anxiety, perceived social support, and religiosity were assessed in 228 (71% male, 29% female) hospitalized CHD patients aged 62 +- 11 years.

Results: Higher levels of social support were related to lower levels of state and trait anxiety (state anxiety, r = -.26, p < .01; trait anxiety, r = -.30, p < .01;). Religiosity was related to lower state anxiety (r = -.27, p < .01) but only modestly related to lower trait anxiety (trait anxiety, r = -.18, p < .01). The relationship between religiosity and trait anxiety was no longer significant after controlling for social support (p = .26).

Conclusions: These findings suggest that religiosity and social support provide a buffer against anxiety in CHD patients and that higher levels of social support may account for the relationship between religiosity and trait anxiety. These findings underscore the importance of social support and religiosity as buffers against distress, with possible implications for prognosis in a patient group where high levels of anxiety appear to confer increased risk of mortality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / psychology*
  • Coronary Disease / epidemiology
  • Coronary Disease / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Social Support*