COLUMBIA, Mo. Research shows that religion and spirituality are linked to positive physical and mental health; however, most studies have focused on people with life threatening diseases. A new study from the University of Missouri-Columbia shows that religion helps many individuals with disabilities adjust to their impairments and gives new meaning to their lives.
According to the study, persons facing impending death may use religion to help them accept their condition, come to terms with unresolved life issues, and prepare for death. However, the study suggests that religion may be an equally, if not more important, coping mechanism for persons with chronic disabilities such as traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke and arthritis.
Although many individuals with disabilities turn to religion to help them deal with their situations, to date, religion is infrequently discussed in rehabilitation settings and is rarely investigated in rehabilitation research. To better meet the needs of persons with disabilities, this needs to change, said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology in the MU School of Health Professions.
The study notes that few practical suggestions exist for how to address religion in health care. Heath care providers should encourage religious practices important to individuals, such as yoga, reading of religious texts, meditation or laying on of hands. Students should be taught about various religious beliefs and how they might be used to the patients advantage in a rehabilitation setting.
Although some professionals may feel uncomfortable obtaining information about patients religious beliefs, it is no different than inquiring about their sexual, psychological, substance use and legal histories, said Johnstone, who also is the director of the MU Spirituality and Health Research Project at the MU Center on Religion and the Professions.
Praying with patients may be appropria
|Contact: Jennifer Faddis|
University of Missouri-Columbia