A home study-based spirituality education program decreases emotional distress and increases quality of life—a randomized, controlled trial

Sabine Moritz, Hude Quan, Badri Rickhi, Mingfu Liu, Maureen Angen, Renata Vintila, Russell Sawa, Jeanette Soriano, John Toews
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 2006, 12 (6): 26-35

CONTEXT: Although epidemiological studies have reported protective effects of religion and spirituality on mental health, it is unknown whether spirituality can be used as an intervention to improve psychological well-being.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the efficacy of a home study-based spirituality program on mood disturbance in emotionally distressed patients.

DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: A non-blinded, randomized, wait list-controlled trial of 165 individuals with mood disturbance [score of >40 on the Profile of Mood States (POMS)] were recruited from primary care clinics in a Canadian city between August 2000 and March 2001.

INTERVENTIONS: Participants were randomized to a spirituality group (an 8-week audiotaped spirituality home-study program), a mindfulness meditation-based stress reduction group (attendance at facilitated classes for 8 weeks), or a wait-list control group (no intervention for 12 weeks).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary outcomes were mood disturbance, measured using POMS, and quality of life, measured using the SF-36, a short-form health survey with 36 questions. The POMS and the SF-36 were completed at baseline, at 8 weeks, and at 12 weeks.

RESULTS: At the end of the 8-week intervention period, the mean POMS score improvement was -43.1 (-45.7%) for the spirituality group, -22.6 (-26.3%) for the meditation group, and -10.3 (11.3%) for the control group (P<.001 for spirituality vs control group; P=.034 for spirituality vs meditation group). Mean improvement in the SF-36 mental component summary score was 14.4 (48.6%) for the spirituality group, 7.1 (22.3%) for the meditation group, and 4.7 (16.1%) for the control group (P<.001 for spirituality vs control group; P=.029 for spirituality vs meditation group). At 12 weeks, POMS and SF-36 scores remained significantly different from baseline for the spirituality group.

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