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Stroke. 2007 Mar;38(3):993-7. Epub 2007 Feb 15.

Can faith protect from emotional distress after stroke?

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IRCCS Rehabilitation Institute San Raffaele Pisana, Rome, Italy.



Emotional distress is common in the aftermath of stroke and can impact negatively on the outcome. The study was aimed at evaluating whether religious beliefs can protect from emotional distress.


Data were collected from 132 consecutive inpatients who were hospitalized for stroke rehabilitation and met the research requirements. At admission all study participants received a semi-structured interview on religious beliefs (Royal Free Interview for religious and spiritual beliefs) and were assessed on their mood with the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. The relationship between religious beliefs and mood was explored, adjusting for possible confounders.


Subjects with over-threshold Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale scores had significantly lower Royal Free Interview scores (odds ratio, 0.95; CI, 92 to 98). The direction and magnitude of the association did not change after adjusting for possible confounders (odds ratio, 0.95; CI, 91 to 98). The same pattern was observed when analyzing separately Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale anxiety and depression subscales. The other significant variable was functional dependence.


The strength of religious beliefs influences the ability to cope after a stroke event, with stronger religious beliefs acting as a possible protective factor against emotional distress.

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