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Soc Sci Med. 1999 May;48(9):1291-9.

The effect of spiritual beliefs on outcome from illness.

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Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Royal Free and University College Medical School, London, UK.


We aimed to assess the role of spiritual belief in clinical outcome of patients nine months after hospital admission. Two hundred and fifty patients admitted to a London teaching hospital were recruited and followed up for nine months. Outcome measures were clinical status as recorded in the outpatient records and patients' self reported health status and beliefs. A hundred and ninety-seven (79%) patients professed some form of spiritual belief, whether or not they engaged in a religious activity. Strength of belief was lower in patients who were in a more serious clinical state on admission (F = 3.099, d.f. = 2 and 192, p = 0.05). Case note information was available nine months later for 234 patients (94%) and contained useful information for judging clinical outcome in 189 (76%). Patients with stronger spiritual beliefs were 2.3 times more likely (CI = 1.1-5.1, p 0.033) to remain the same or deteriorate clinically nine months later. Other predictors of poor outcome were male gender and sleep disturbance at time of admission to hospital. We conclude that a stronger spiritual belief is an independent predictor of poor outcome at nine months in patients admitted to two acute services of a London hospital. It is more predictive of outcome than physical state assessed by clinicians, or self-reported psychological state, at admission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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