Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 51, Issue 4, pp 1337–1346 | Cite as

Is Religious Coping Related to Better Quality of Life Following Acute Myocardial Infarction?

  • Crystal L. Park
  • Ellen Dornelas
Original Paper


Although few studies have examined the extent to which religiousness is related to better well-being following acute myocardial infarction (AMI), studies from the broader literature suggest that positive religious coping may be helpful while more negative forms of religious coping may be related to poorer well-being. To assess the relationship between positive and negative religious coping and depressive symptoms in patients with AMI, we collected data twice over a 1-month period from 56 patients hospitalized with a first AMI. Controlling for demographic variables and social support, both positive and negative religious coping were independently related to higher levels of depressive symptoms both in hospital and at a one-month follow-up. Further, even when controlling for baseline depressive symptoms, religious coping predicted higher subsequent depressive symptoms. These results suggest that religious coping appears to be maladaptive in dealing with acute MI, perhaps because this type of recovery requires more active forms of coping.


Positive religious coping Negative religious coping Myocardial infarction Depressive symptoms 



This study was funded by internal grants from the University of Connecticut Research Foundation and Hartford Hospital. We appreciate the work of Tara Wall, Ph.D. in helping us collect the in-hospital data.


  1. Ai, A., Park, C. L., Huang, B., Rodgers, W., & Tice, T. N. (2007). Psychosocial mediation of religious coping styles: A study of short-term adjustment following cardiac surgery. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 867–882.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ano, G. G., & Vasconcelles, E. B. (2005). Religious coping and psychological adjustment to stress: A meta-analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61, 461–480.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bisschop, M. I., Kriegsman, D. M. W., Beekman, A. T. F., & Deeg, D. J. H. (2004). Chronic diseases and depression: The modifying role of psychosocial resources. Social Science and Medicine, 59, 721–733.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Blumenthal, J. A., Babyak, M. A., Ironson, G., Thoresen, C., Powell, L., Czajkowski, S. et al. (2007). Spirituality, religion, and clinical outcomes in patients recovering from an acute myocardial infarction. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69, 501–508.Google Scholar
  5. Burker, E. J., Evon, D. M., Sedway, J. A., & Egan, T. (2004). Religious coping, psychological distress and disability among patients with end-stage pulmonary disease. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings, 11, 179–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chwastiak, L., Ehde, D. M., Gibbons, L. E., Sullivan, M., Bowen, J. D., & Kraft, G. H. (2002). Depressive symptoms and severity of illness in multiple sclerosis: Epidemiologic study of a large community sample. American Journal of Psychiatry, 159, 1862–1868.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. ENRICHD Investigators. (2001). Enhancing Recovery in Coronary Heart Disease (ENRICHD) study intervention: Rationale and design. Psychosomatic Medicine, 63, 747–755.Google Scholar
  8. Exline, J. J., & Rose, E. (2005). Religious and spiritual struggles: Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  9. Fetzer Institute/National Institute on Aging Working Group. (1999). Multidimensional measurement of religiousness/spirituality for use in health research: A report of a national working group supported by the Fetzer Institute and The National Institute on Aging. Kalamazoo, MI: John E. Fetzer Institute.Google Scholar
  10. Fitchett, G., Rybarczyk, B. D., DeMarco, G. A., & Nicholas, J. J. (1999). The role of religion in medical rehabilitation outcomes: A longitudinal study. Rehabilitation Psychology, 44, 333–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fitchett, G., Murphy, P. E., Kim, J., Gibbons, J. L., Cameron, J. R., & Davis, J. A. (2004). Religious struggle: Prevalence, correlates and mental health risks in diabetic, congestive heart failure, and oncology patients. International Journal of Psychiatry and Medicine, 34, 179–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gall, T., Charbonneau, C., & Florack, P. (2010). The relationship between religious/spiritual factors and perceived growth following a diagnosis of breast cancer. Psychology & Health, 19, 1–19.Google Scholar
  13. Hank, K., & Schaan, B. (2008). Cross-national variations in the correlation between frequency of prayer and health among older Europeans. Research on Aging, 30, 36–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harrison, M. O., Koenig, H. G., Hays, J. C., Eme-Akwari, A. G., & Pargament, K. I. (2001). The epidemiology of religious coping: A review of recent literature. International Journal of Psychiatry, 13, 86–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hughes, J. W., Tomlinson, A., Blumenthal, J. A., Davidson, J., Sketch, H., & Watkins, L. L. (2004). Social support and religiosity as coping strategies for anxiety in hospitalized cardiac patients. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 28, 179–185.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Idler, E. L., & Kasl, S. V. (1997). Religion among disabled and nondisabled persons II: Attendance at religious services as a predictor of the course of disability. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences: B Psychological Science and Social Science, 52B, S306–S316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Idler, E. L., Musick, M. A., Ellison, C. G., George, L. K., Krause, N., et al. (2003). Measuring multiple dimensions of religion and spirituality for health research: Conceptual background and findings from the 1998 General Social Survey. Research on Aging, 25, 327–365.Google Scholar
  18. Ives, T. J., Chelminski, P. R., Hammett-Stabler, C. A., Malone, R. M., Perhac, J. S., Potisek, N. M., et al. (2006). Predictors of opioid misuse in patients with chronic pain: A prospective cohort study. BMC Health Services Research, 6, 46.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Keeley, B., Wright, L., & Condit, C. M. (2009). Functions of health fatalism: Fatalistic talk as face saving, uncertainty management, stress relief and sense making. Sociology of Health and Illness, 31, 734–747.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Koenig, H. G., McCullough, M. E., & Larson, D. B. (2001). Handbook of religion and health. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Lee, B. Y., & Newberg, A. B. (2010). The interaction of religion and health. In B. D. Beitman (Ed.), Integrative psychiatry (pp. 408–444). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Martin, K. R., & Levy, B. R. (2006). Opposing trends of religious attendance and religiosity in predicting elders’ functional recovery after an acute myocardial infarction. Journal of Religion and Health, 45, 440–451.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Mayou, R. A., Anthony J., Gill, D., Thompson, D. R., Day, A., Hicks, N., et al. (2000). Depression and anxiety as predictors of outcome after myocardial infarction. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62, 212–219.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Miller, J. F., McConnell, T. R., & Klinger, T. A. (2007). Religiosity and spirituality: Influence on quality of life and perceived patient self-efficacy among cardiac patients and their spouses. Journal of Religion and Health, 46, 299–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Mitchell, P. H., Powell, L., Blumenthal, J., Norten, J., Ironson, G., Pitula, R. C., et al. (2003). A short social support measure for patients recovering from myocardial infarction: The ENRICHD Social Support Inventory. Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation, 23, 398–403.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Oman, D., & Thoresen, C. (2005). Do religion and spirituality influence health? In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (pp. 435–459). Guilford: New York.Google Scholar
  27. Pargament, K. I. (1997). The psychology of religion and coping. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  28. Pargament, K. I. (2007). Spiritually integrated psychotherapy: Understanding and addressing the sacred. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  29. Pargament, K. I., Koenig, H. G., Tarakeshwar, N., & Hahn, J. (2001). Religious struggle as a predictor of mortality among medically ill elderly patients: A 2-year longitudinal study. Archives of Internal Medicine, 161, 1881–1885.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Park, C. L. (in press). Meaning, spirituality, and growth: Protective and resilience factors in health and illness. A. S. Baum, T. A. Revenson & J. E. Singer (Eds.), Handbook of health psychology, (2nd ed.) Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  31. Powell, L. H., Shahabi, L., & Thoresen, C. E. (2003). Religion and spirituality: Linkages to physical health. American Psychologist, 58, 36–52.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D scale: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Santor, D. A., Zuroff, D. C., Ramsay, J. O., & Cervantes, P. (1995). Examining scale discriminability in the BDI and CES-D as a function of depressive severity. Psychological Assessment, 7, 131–139.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Saroglou, V. (2002). Religion and the five factors of personality: A meta-analytic review. Personality and Individual Differences, 32, 15–25.Google Scholar
  35. Sherman, A. C., Plante, T. G., Simonton, S., Latif, U., & Anaissie, E. J. (2009). Prospective study of religious coping among patients undergoing autologous stem cell transplantation. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 32, 118–128.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2001). Using multivariate statistics (4th ed. ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  37. Tarakeshwar, N., Vanderwerker, L. C., Paulk, M. J., Kasl, S. V., & Prigerson, H. G. (2006). Religious coping is associated with the quality of life of patients with advanced cancer. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 9, 646–657.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Thune-Boyle, I. C., Stygall, J. A., Keshtar, M. R., & Newman, S. P. (2006). Do religious/spiritual coping strategies affect illness adjustment in patients with cancer? A systematic review of the literature. Social Science and Medicine, 63, 151–164.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Trevino, K., Pargament, K., Cotton, S., Leonard, A., Hahn, J., Caprini-Faigin, C., et al. (2010). Religious coping and physiological, psychological, social, and spiritual outcomes in patients with HIV/AIDS: Cross-sectional and longitudinal findings. AIDS and Behavior, 14, 379–389.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. VanVoorhis, C. R. W., & Morgan, B. L. (2007). Understanding power and rules of thumb for determining sample sizes. Tutorials in Quantitative Methods for Psychology, 3, 43–50.Google Scholar
  41. Yi, M. S., Mrus, J. M., Wade, T. J., Ho, M. L., Hornung, R. W., Cotton, S., et al. (2006). Religion, spirituality, and depressive symptoms in patients with HIV/AIDS. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 21, S21–S27.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Zwingmann, C., Wirtz, M., Miiller, C., Korber, J., & Murken, S. (2006). Positive and negative religious coping in German cancer patients. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29, 533–547.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.Hartford HospitalHartfordUSA

Personalised recommendations