Is there a correlation between spirituality and anxiety and depression in patients with advanced cancer?

Abstract

Aims and objectives

To establish whether there is a correlation between spirituality and anxiety and depression in patients with advanced cancer.

Patients and methods

Patients with a diagnosis of cancer at St. Peter’s day hospice in Bristol were asked to complete three questionnaires to assess anxiety, depression and spirituality. Informed consent was obtained. Anxiety and depression are indicated by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale score, and spirituality is indicated by scores on the Spiritual Well-Being Scale (SWBS) and the Royal Free Interview for Spiritual and Religious Beliefs. As will be explained, religion and spirituality are generally recognised as having different meanings—religion entailing a relationship with a higher being, while spirituality can be thought of in terms of meaning and purpose in life.

Results

Eighty-five complete data sets were obtained. A significant negative correlation was found between both anxiety and depression scores and overall spiritual well-being scores (p<0.0001). When the SWBS subscale scores were analysed individually, a significant negative correlation was found between the existential well-being scores and the anxiety and depression scores (p<0.001). However, no correlation was found between the religious well-being scores and anxiety or depression.

Conclusions

This study found a significant negative correlation between spirituality (in particular, the existential aspect) and anxiety and depression in patients with advanced cancer. Religious well-being and strength of belief had no impact on psychological well-being in this study.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Christopher Foy and Rosemary Greenwood for statistical assistance and Prof. Michael King, Rev. Peter Speck, Rev. Mark Cobb, Prof. Mari Lloyd-Williams and Dr. Bill Noble for other additional assistance.

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Correspondence to Rachel C. McCoubrie.

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McCoubrie, R.C., Davies, A.N. Is there a correlation between spirituality and anxiety and depression in patients with advanced cancer?. Support Care Cancer 14, 379 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00520-005-0892-6

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Keywords

  • Spirituality
  • Religion
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Cancer