Are spirituality and religiosity resources for patients with chronic pain conditions?

Pain Med. 2009 Mar;10(2):327-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2009.00572.x.


Objective: We studied whether or not spirituality/religiosity is a relevant resource for patients with chronic pain conditions, and to analyze interrelations between spirituality/religiosity (SpREUK Questionnaire; SpREUK is an acronym of the German translation of "Spiritual and Religious Attitudes in Dealing with Illness"), adaptive coping styles that refer to the concept of locus of disease control (AKU Questionnaire; AKU is an acronym of the German translation of "Adaptive Coping with Disease"), life satisfaction, and appraisal dimensions.

Patients: In a multicenter cross-sectional study, 580 patients with chronic pain conditions were enrolled.

Results: We found that the patients relied on both external powerful sources of disease control and on internal powers and virtues, while Trust in Higher Source (intrinsic religiosity) or Illness as Chance (reappraisal) were valued moderately; Search for Meaningful Support/Access (spiritual quest orientation) was of minor relevance. Stepwise regression analyses revealed that the internal sources of disease control, such as Conscious and Healthy Way of Living and Positive Attitudes, were (apart from the religious denomination) the strongest predictors of patients' reliance on spirituality/religiosity. Both behavioral styles were rated significantly lower in patients who regarded themselves as neither religious nor spiritual. Positive disease interpretations such as Challenge and Value were clearly associated with a spiritual quest orientation and intrinsic religiosity.

Conclusion: The associations between spirituality/religiosity, positive appraisals. and internal adaptive coping strategies indicate that the utilization of spirituality/religiosity goes far beyond fatalistic acceptance, but can be regarded as an active coping process. The findings support the need for further research concerning the contributions of spiritual coping in adjustment to chronic pain.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Attitude to Health
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / psychology*
  • Spiritualism*
  • Spirituality*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires