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Publication Date

2009-01-01

Availability

UM campus only

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2009-11-09

First Committee Member

Amy Weisman de Mamani - Committee Chair

Second Committee Member

Michael Antoni - Committee Member

Third Committee Member

Edward Rappaport - Outside Committee Member

Abstract

Schizophrenia is a severe and persistent mental illness. Nonetheless, recovery is often possible through pharmacotherapy in conjunction with psychosocial interventions, which help patients and their family members to develop coping strategies that alleviate distress associated with the symptoms of the illness and increase psychological well-being. Religion is one variable that has been strongly linked to the utilization of certain beneficial coping strategies and to greater psychological well-being. In a sample of 112 patients with schizophrenia and 87 of their family members, the present study examines the relationship between religion and two forms of coping that have been linked to positive outcomes in non-psychiatric and psychiatric populations alike: meaning-making and social support coping. While social support has consistently been associated with positive outcomes in the literature, new research suggests that assisting patients and family members to find meaning in the illness also improves psychiatric functioning and increases quality of life. In addition, prior research illustrates that these two coping styles may mediate the beneficial effects of religion on mental health (Chamberlain & Zika, 1992; McIntosh, Silver, & Wortman, 1993; Park, 2005). In line with hypotheses, we found that greater religion was related to less severe psychiatric symptoms among patients, while greater meaning-making coping was related to greater quality of life among patients and family members. Although findings did not support the mediation hypotheses in our sample, these findings have important implications for schizophrenia research and clinical practice. Clinicians should be aware of and sensitive to the ways in which patients and families utilize religion in the coping process. In addition, explicitly encouraging families to find meaning amidst adversity may improve quality of life among this distressed population. This paper also addressed several other interesting findings that replicate and extend previous research in this area.

Keywords

Spirituality

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