Clergy-laity support and patients' mood during serious illness: a cross-sectional epidemiologic study.
OBJECTIVES: Religious participation is positively associated with mental health, but attendance at worship services declines during serious illness. This study assessed whether home visits by clergy or laity provide benefits to seriously ill patients who may have difficulty attending religious services. METHOD: A cross-sectional study design nested in an observational epidemiologic cohort study was used. The regionally representative sample of patients had metastatic lung, colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer (n = 70); Class III and IV congestive heart failure (n = 70); or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with hypercapnea (n = 70) and were observed regarding clergy-laity support in their natural environments. DEPENDENT VARIABLE: 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies - Depression Scale. INDEPENDENT VARIABLE: A one-item question measuring how much helpful support patients received from clergy or other persons from church, temple, synagogue, or mosque. Covariates: demographic, health, social support, religiousness. RESULTS: Depressed mood was negatively associated with clergy-laity support in a non-linear pattern. Depressed mood was also positively associated with functional deficits and a lifetime history of difficulties related to religious involvement. SIGNIFICANCE OF RESULTS: In lieu of worship attendance when people are sick, home visits by members of a patient's religious community may bolster mood by providing continuity of instrumental, emotional, and spiritual support.
Hays, JC; Wood, L; Steinhauser, K; Olson, MK; Lindquist, JH; Tulsky, JA
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