Objective: Spirituality is favorably related to depression, quality of life, hospitalizations, and other important outcomes in congestive heart failure (CHF) patients but has not been examined as a predictor of mortality risk in this population. Given the well-known difficulties in managing CHF, we hypothesized that spirituality would be associated with lower mortality risk, controlling for baseline demographics, functional status, health behaviors, and religiousness.
Method: Participants were 191 CHF patients (64% male; M age = 68.6 years, SD = 10.1) who completed a baseline survey and were then followed for 5 years.
Results: Nearly 1/3 of the sample (32%) died during the study period. Controlling for demographics and health status, smoking more than doubled the risk of mortality, whereas alcohol consumption was associated with slightly lower risk of mortality. Importantly, adherence to healthy lifestyle recommendations was associated with halved mortality risk. Although both religion and spirituality were associated with better health behaviors at baseline in bivariate analyses, a proportional hazard model showed that only spirituality was significantly associated with reduced mortality risk (by 20%), controlling for demographics, health status, and health behaviors.
Conclusions: Experiencing spiritual peace, along with adherence to a healthy lifestyle, were better predictors of mortality risk in this sample of CHF patients than were physical health indicators such as functional status and comorbidity. Future research might profitably examine the efficacy of attending to spiritual issues along with standard lifestyle interventions.
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