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Spirituality may help adolescents cope with chronic illness
Date:1/8/2009

CINCINNATIChronic illness can lead to poorer quality of lifeparticularly for adolescents. New research shows that spirituality may help teens cope with their conditions.

Two recent studies, led by Michael Yi, MD, associate professor of medicine, and Sian Cotton, PhD, research assistant professor in the department of family medicine, investigated how adolescents with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)a condition characterized by chronic inflammation in the intestinesmay use spirituality to cope with their illness.

These results were published in online versions of the Journal of Pediatrics and the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Spirituality is defined as one's sense of meaning or purpose in life or one's sense of connectedness to the sacred or divine.

IBD is a term that refers mainly to ulcerative colitiswhich causes ulcers in the colonand Crohn's diseaseoccurring when the immune system attacks the gastrointestinal tract.

Patients with IBD experience recurrent abdominal pain, bloody stools and diarrhea, among other serious problems, and have an increased risk for colon cancer. Adolescents with IBD are also at risk for numerous psychosocial difficulties, including increased mental health problems and social stigma.

The exact cause of IBD is not known, and there is no cure.

Teams led by Yi and Cotton collected data on socio-demographics, functional health status and psychosocial characteristics as well as spiritual well-being for 67 patients with IBD and 88 healthy adolescents between the ages of 11 and 19.

"Personal characteristics like self esteem, family functioning and social characteristics, like level of peer support, were similar between adolescents with IBD when compared to healthy peers, indicating that adolescents with IBD appear resilient," Yi says. "However, health-related quality of life was significantly poorer in general. On average, when compared to their healthy pe
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Contact: Katie Pence
katie.pence@uc.edu
513-558-4561
University of Cincinnati
Source:Eurekalert

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