Study: Spirituality may improve quality of life

According to the results of a study1 in Psychiatry Research, spirituality and religiousness might contribute to improved quality of life (QOL) in patients who have been diagnosed with residual schizophrenia.

The study enrolled 103 adults with this particular diagnosis who were outpatients in a psychiatry department. Their mean age was 34 years, the mean age at schizophrenia onset was 23 years, and they had had been diagnosed for a mean of almost 12 years. More than half (62%) were male, 71% were Hindus, and the rest were Sikhs. The mean positive domain score on the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale (PANSS), which is a medical scale used for measuring symptom severity of patients with schizophrenia, was 9, the negative domain score was 17, the general psychopathology score was 23, and the total PANSS score was 49.

The study points out that previously, research examining the connections between spirituality and QOL has been almost entirely in the context of "chronic and life-threatening" diseases such as cancer, HIV infection, heart disease, and spinal cord injury. That research, too, has found positive associations between "spiritual well-being" and QOL.

For purposes of the study, the researchers assed patients using the World Health Organization Quality of Life — Spirituality, Religiousness, and Personal Beliefs (WHOQOL-SRPB) Scale. In addition to evaluating the five domains of QOL (physical, psychological, level of independence, social relationships, and environment), this scale includes questions related to spirituality, religiousness, and personal beliefs.

Among the main findings was that the spirituality domain of QOL was significantly related to other QOL domains, including the physical, psychological, and social domains. The results also showed that two facets of the spirituality and religiousness domain of QOL — inner peace and spirituality — significantly contributed to the "variance of all the other domains of QOL." For example, the authors describe inner peace as having "a prominent influence" on other areas of QOL, as well as on general QOL, which "suggests that the most important aspect of the spirituality domain of QOL is inner peace which influences the overall QOL" in people with schizophrenia.

The authors of the study conclude that the study suggests that the spirituality and religiosity domains of QOL have an important influence on other aspects of QOL of patients with schizophrenia. Because of this, the authors advise clinicians to assess the spirituality status and its meaning to each patient and encourage patients to "turn to religion more frequently if they consider it useful in dealing with their suffering."

Reference

  1. Shah R, Kulhara P, Grover S, et al. Contribution of spirituality to quality of life in patients with residual schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research 2011; 190:200-205.