, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 414-425
Date: 22 Feb 2011

View of God as benevolent and forgiving or punishing and judgmental predicts HIV disease progression

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This study assessed the predictive relationship between View of God beliefs and change in CD4-cell and Viral Load (VL) in HIV positive people over an extended period. A diverse sample of HIVseropositive participants (N = 101) undergoing comprehensive psychological assessment and blood draws over the course of 4 years completed the View of God Inventory with subscales measuring Positive View (benevolent/forgiving) and Negative View of God (harsh/judgmental/punishing). Adjusting for initial disease status, age, gender, ethnicity, education, and antiretroviral medication (at every 6-month visit), a Positive View of God predicted significantly slower disease-progression (better preservation of CD4-cells, better control of VL), whereas a Negative View of God predicted faster disease-progression over 4 years. Effect sizes were greater than those previously demonstrated for psychosocial variables known to predict HIV-disease-progression, such as depression and coping. Results remained significant even after adjusting for church attendance and psychosocial variables (health behaviors, mood, and coping). These results provide good initial evidence that spiritual beliefs may predict health outcomes.

Parts of this article were presented at the annual meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine March 22–25, 2006, San Francisco. “Ironson, G., Stuetzle, R., Fletcher, M.A. and Ironson, D. View of God is Associated with Disease Progression in HIV.” Paper Abstract published in Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 31(Supplement), 2006; S074.