Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 52, Issue 4, pp 1253–1266

An Exploratory Study of HIV+ Adolescents’ Spirituality: Will You Pray with Me?

  • Karen Bernstein
  • Lawrence J. D’Angelo
  • Maureen E. Lyon
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10943-012-9565-1

Cite this article as:
Bernstein, K., D’Angelo, L.J. & Lyon, M.E. J Relig Health (2013) 52: 1253. doi:10.1007/s10943-012-9565-1


The aims of the study were (1) to determine whether adolescents find it acceptable to have physicians explore their spiritual beliefs as part of their medical care, (2) to characterize the role of spirituality and religious beliefs in adolescents with and without HIV, and (3) to examine associations between spirituality/religion and quality of life. Adolescents receiving their medical care at an urban Adolescent Health Clinic completed a study-specific questionnaire about spiritual inquiry by their physician, the Brief Multidimensional Measurement of Religiousness/Spirituality, and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory 4.0. Chi-squared analysis, Fischer’s exact test, and t tests were used to assess associations. A total of 45 participants enrolled: 19 HIV+ (53% vertical transmission) and 26 HIV−; mean age 17.2 years; 80% African American. Four out of 45 (9%) had ever been asked by their doctor about their spiritual/religious beliefs, and only 8 (18%) had ever shared these beliefs with their healthcare provider. Most teens wanted their provider to ask them about their spiritual beliefs during some visits, especially when dealing with death/dying or chronic illness (67%). Those with HIV were more likely to endorse wanting their doctors to pray with them (42% vs. 15%), feeling “God’s presence” (Mean = 3.95 vs. 2.83), being “part of a larger force” (Mean = 2.58 vs. 1.69), and feeling “God had abandoned them” (Mean = 1.63 vs. 1.15). There are certain circumstances in which healthcare providers should include a spiritual history with teenage patients. Few differences emerged in the teens studied with and without HIV.


AdolescentSpiritualityReligious beliefsHIV/AIDSCommunicationMedical providers



Human immunodeficiency virus/Acquired immune deficiency syndrome


Brief Multidimensional Measurement of Religiousness/Spirituality (BMMRS-adapted)

Peds QoL

Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory 4.0

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karen Bernstein
    • 1
  • Lawrence J. D’Angelo
    • 2
    • 3
  • Maureen E. Lyon
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PediatricsAdvocate Lutheran General Children’s HospitalPark RidgeUSA
  2. 2.The George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Division of Adolescent and Young Adult MedicineChildren’s National Medical CenterWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.Center for Clinical and Community Research/Children’s Research InstituteChildren’s National Medical CenterWashingtonUSA