Objective: The present study explored the role of the emotional experience of God (i.e., positive and negative God images) in the happiness of chronic pain (CP) patients. Framed in the transactional model of stress, we tested a model in which God images would influence happiness partially through its influence on disease interpretation as a mediating mechanism. We expected God images to have both a direct and an indirect (through the interpretation of disease) effect on happiness.
Design: A cross-sectional questionnaire design was adopted in order to measure demographics, pain condition, God images, disease interpretation, and happiness. One hundred thirty-six CP patients, all members of a national patients' association, completed the questionnaires.
Results: Correlational analyses showed meaningful associations among God images, disease interpretation, and happiness. Path analyses from a structural equation modeling approach indicated that positive God images seemed to influence happiness, both directly and indirectly through the pathway of positive interpretation of the disease. Ancillary analyses showed that the negative influence of angry God images on happiness disappeared after controlling for pain severity.
Conclusion: The results indicated that one's emotional experience of God has an influence on happiness in CP patients, both directly and indirectly through the pathway of positive disease interpretation. These findings can be framed within the transactional theory of stress and can stimulate further pain research investigating the possible effects of religion in the adaptation to CP.