Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 414–425 | Cite as

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

  • Gail Ironson
  • Rick Stuetzle
  • Dale Ironson
  • Elizabeth Balbin
  • Heidemarie Kremer
  • Annie George
  • Neil Schneiderman
  • Mary Ann Fletcher


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.


Spirituality Beliefs God Health HIV/AIDS Disease progression Religion 



This research was graciously supported by the Metanexus/Templeton Foundation, and by the National Institute of Mental Health Grant (R01MH53791, and R01MH066697) Principal Investigator: Gail Ironson. Special thanks to our research participants for sharing their experiences with us, and to Dr. Sol Katz, the Director of the Metanexus Spiritual Transformation Project. Additional appreciation goes to Vanessa Cutler for her help in editing the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gail Ironson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Rick Stuetzle
    • 1
  • Dale Ironson
    • 3
  • Elizabeth Balbin
    • 1
  • Heidemarie Kremer
    • 1
  • Annie George
    • 1
  • Neil Schneiderman
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mary Ann Fletcher
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MiamiCoral GablesUSA
  2. 2.Department of Psychiatry, Miller School of MedicineUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  3. 3.Foster CityUSA

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