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Int J Psychiatry Med. 2011;41(1):91-105.

A randomized controlled trial to assess effectiveness of a spiritually-based intervention to help chronically ill adults.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21202, USA.



Creative, cost-effective ways are needed to help older adults deal effectively with chronic diseases. Spiritual beliefs and practices are often used to deal with health problems. We evaluated whether a minimal intervention, consisting of a video and workbook encouraging use of patient spiritual coping, would be inoffensive and improve perceived health status.


A randomized clinical trial of 100 older, chronically ill adults were assigned to a Spiritual (SPIRIT) or Educational (EDUC--standard cardiac risk reduction) intervention. Individuals in each group were shown a 28-minute video and given a workbook to complete over 4 weeks. Selected psychosocial and health outcome measures were administered at baseline and 6 weeks later.


Participants were mostly female (62%), with a mean age of 65.8 +/- 9.6 years and had an average of three chronic illnesses. More than 90% were Christian. At baseline, frequent daily spiritual experiences (DSE) were associated with being African American (p < .05) and increased pain (p < .01) and co-morbidities (p < or = .01). Energy increased significantly (p < .05) in the SPIRIT group and decreased in the EDUC group. Improvements in pain, mood, health perceptions, illness intrusiveness, and self-efficacy were not statistically significant.


A minimal intervention encouraging spiritual coping was inoffensive to patients, associated with increased energy, and required no additional clinician time.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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