RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, NON-P.H.S.
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Spiritual correlates of functional well-being in women with breast cancer.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the United States and constitutes a major source of medical and psychological morbidity. The psychosocial sequelae, while not always severe, can last up to a year after diagnosis. This may be a time when spiritual and social resources become important. It is known that practical and emotional support during treatment for breast cancer benefits the patient's mood and quality of life, but it is unclear as to how spirituality and spiritual well-being may benefit the patient. This study examined this question by exploring the relationships between spirituality, spiritual well-being, physical well-being, functional well-being, mood, and adjustment style in a sample of 191 women recently diagnosed with breast cancer or who had metastatic cancer. The women were asked to complete questionnaires pertaining to the above topics at enrollment to a group intervention study. Measures of spirituality, spiritual well-being, physical well-being, functional well-being, mood, and adjustment style taken at the same point in time were then correlated with each other. There were more significant correlations of spirituality and spiritual well-being with functional well-being than physical well-being, but items pertaining to meaning and peace tended to correlate significantly with physical well-being. Spirituality also correlated significantly with several coping styles, but not avoidance as has been previously suggested. Regression analyses were also performed to find the best combination of variables to predict physical and functional well-being. A combination of social well-being and several questions pertaining to peacefulness accounted for 18% of the variance in physical well-being. However, a combination of social well-being and the spiritual scales accounted for 46% of the variance in functional well-being. When the spiritual scales were examined alone, they accounted for 40% of the variance in functional well-being. The results of this study confirm the importance of spirituality and spiritual well-being in both physical and functional well-being. Asking patients about the role of spirituality in their lives may be a useful marker to predict patient's ability to cope with stress in their lives and of their quality of life.

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