Evolution of spirituality and religiousness in chronic schizophrenia or schizo-affective disorders: a 3-years follow-up study

Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2010 Nov;45(11):1095-103. doi: 10.1007/s00127-009-0151-0. Epub 2009 Oct 11.


Purpose: Spirituality and religiousness have been shown to be highly prevalent in patients with schizophrenia. Religion can help instil a positive sense of self, decrease the impact of symptoms and provide social contacts. Religion may also be a source of suffering. In this context, this research explores whether religion remains stable over time.

Methods: From an initial cohort of 115 out-patients, 80% completed the 3-years follow-up assessment. In order to study the evolution over time, a hierarchical cluster analysis using average linkage was performed on factorial scores at baseline and follow-up and their differences. A sensitivity analysis was secondarily performed to check if the outcome was influenced by other factors such as changes in mental states using mixed models.

Results: Religion was stable over time for 63% patients; positive changes occurred for 20% (i.e., significant increase of religion as a resource or a transformation of negative religion to a positive one) and negative changes for 17% (i.e., decrease of religion as a resource or a transformation of positive religion to a negative one). Change in spirituality and/or religiousness was not associated with social or clinical status, but with reduced subjective quality of life and self-esteem; even after controlling for the influence of age, gender, quality of life and clinical factors at baseline.

Conclusions: In this context of patients with chronic schizophrenia, religion appeared to be labile. Qualitative analyses showed that those changes expressed the struggles of patients and suggest that religious issues need to be discussed in clinical settings.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Quality of Life
  • Religion*
  • Schizophrenia / diagnosis*
  • Schizophrenic Psychology
  • Self Concept
  • Spirituality*