What is it about?
Understanding how religion and spirituality influence health-related quality of life is important for developing holistic, patient-centered treatment. This study determined how different religious and spiritual beliefs were related to the health of people living with HIV. Adults living with HIV in Washington, D.C., were more likely to feel higher levels of emotional and physical well-being if they attended religious services regularly, prayed daily, felt “God’s presence,” and self-identified as religious or spiritual. By contrast, patients living with HIV who had the lowest levels of quality of life and more mental health challenges were privately religious, potentially eschewing organized religion due to fears about being stigmatized or ostracized. In general, patients living with HIV have reported that they wished their health care providers acknowledged their religious beliefs and spiritual struggles. Additional research is needed to gauge whether developing faith-based interventions or routine referrals to faith-based programs that welcome racial and sexual minorities improve satisfaction with treatment and health outcomes.
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Why is it important?
“These findings are significant because they point to the untapped potential of encouraging patients living with HIV who are already religious to attend religious services regularly. Scientific evidence suggests that religions that present God as all-powerful, personal, responsive, loving, just and forgiving make a difference in health-related quality of life. By contrast, belief systems and religions that see God as punishing, angry, vengeful and distant and isolate members from their families and the larger community do not have health benefits or contribute to health-related quality of life. People who identify as spiritual also benefit from improved overall health-related quality of life,” says Maureen E. Lyon, Ph.D., FABPP, a clinical health psychologist at Children’s National Hospital, and senior study author. “Being committed to a welcoming religious group provides social support, a sense of identity and a way to cope with stress experienced by people living with HIV,” Lyon says. “We encourage clinicians to capitalize on patients’ spiritual beliefs that improve health - such as prayer, meditation, reading spiritual texts and attending community events - by including them in holistic treatment programs in a non-judgmental way.”
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This page is a summary of: The role of religiousness and spirituality in health-related quality of life of persons living with HIV: A latent class analysis., Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, November 2020, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/rel0000301.
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