Interest in the relevance of religion and spirituality to medicine has grown in the last decades in sight of possible association with well being. The so-called religious coping is a further step which has prompted by a growing awareness of beneficial effect on stress and outcome of many disabling diseases. A measure of this kind of coping is “The Brief RCOPE” which has gained a wide application. We translated “The Brief RCOPE” into Italian and validated the version. There are two main reasons why an Italian translation of a religious coping scale was deemed useful: (i) Italian population reached 60 millions of inhabitants but Italians and their families who live abroad considerably increase that amount and (ii) Italy has a large aging population and thus a high prevalence of disabled patients. The translation was accomplished in several steps, including the back translation. Altogether, the translated scale was applied to 211 participants. One hundred and sixteen healthy volunteers were the control group. Thirty-five frail elderly (FE) in residence, twenty-three participants from nursing homes (NHs), twenty members of religious orders, and seventeen cancer (K) patients were also enrolled in the study. The Brief RCOPE consists of two sub-scales ranging from 7 (low) to 28 (high). They measure positive and negative coping. Each one of the 14 items is scored on a 4-point Likert scale with response options from 1 (strongly disagreement) to 4 (strongly agreement). The positive scoring values outlined differences among groups, whereas negative coping values had a smoothing effect. Religious people have a high median value (25) at positive coping sub-scale. They outscore lay-people and the finding could be expected. By contrast, FE, NH, and K participants do not score differently from religious people. The scale has internal validity. The Cronbach’s Alpha coefficient was 0.90 (positive coping scale) and 0.78 (negative coping scale) in the whole sample. The ranges of values in the sub-groups were 0.69–0.90 and 0.59–0.83, respectively, for the positive and the negative Brief RCOPE. The Spearman coefficient for test–retest reliability was calculated in 12 clergy members and in 12 healthy volunteers. In both cases, the value was 0.9, P < 0.0001. The scale has also external validity. The difference between the positive and the negative sub-scales is confirmed by the Kruskal–Wallis test. The 5-group comparison is highly significant. The Mann–Whitney test was then used for a post-hoc comparison. It was found that religious members, FE, NH, and K participants outscore healthy volunteers. In conclusion, a reliable tool is available to health and social science Italian researchers for integrating religious dimensions into models of health, stress, and coping. The scale can be useful for identifying those patients who can exploit religious coping.
Cancer Chronic diseases Depression Religious coping