Religiosity/Spirituality and Pain in Patients With Sickle Cell Disease
Religion/spirituality has been identified by individuals with sickle cell disease (SCD) as an important factor in coping with stress and in determining quality of life. Research has demonstrated positive associations between religiosity/spirituality and better physical and mental health outcomes. However, few studies have examined the influence religiosity/spirituality has on the experience of pain in chronically ill patients. Our aim was to examine three domains of religiosity/spirituality (church attendance, prayer/Bible study, intrinsic religiosity) and evaluate their association with measures of pain. We studied a consecutive sample of 50 SCD outpatients and found that church attendance was significantly associated with measures of pain. Attending church once or more per week was associated with the lowest scores on pain measures. These findings were maintained after controlling for age, gender, and disease severity. Prayer/Bible study and intrinsic religiosity were not significantly related to pain in our study. Positive associations are consistent with recent literature, but our results expose new aspects of the relationship for African American patients. We conclude that religious involvement likely plays a significant role in modulating the pain experience of African American patients with SCD and may be an important factor for future study in other populations of chronically ill pain sufferers.
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