Religious Beliefs May Lessen Post-Op Stress

A study presented to the American Psychological Association demonstrated once again the positive role religious faith can play in medicine. "The study shows less distress after heart surgery in people who lean on faith for comfort and support than those who feel spiritually angry or doubtful." Obviously, the less stress after heart surgery the quicker and more complete the recovery.

The team "studied 309 people due for major heart surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center between 1999 and 2002." They were interviewed twice before their surgery and took a survey once afterwards to determine their coping styles. Those whose coping styles included "Finding forgiveness, spiritual support, and love in their religious beliefs" reported significantly less stress. Those who reported being angry at God or spiritually discontent actually experienced more stress.

Another study shows that patients want their doctors to discuss spirituality more often. "Evidence indicates that patients who are more spiritual or religious have lower mortality rates, reduced stress, and overall better physical and mental health. They typically require fewer health services." But, "[l]ack of spiritual training, unwillingness to depart from established medical arenas, and ethical issues are some of the reasons why doctors have avoided widespread spiritual discussion with patients." This is interesting and because doctors are more religious than some had previously believed, perhaps increased attention to a patient's spirituality should be encouraged among medical practitioners. Even if doctors themselves are reluctant to engage in it, increased use of chaplains and association with religious charities and volunteers may be a way to meet this need.

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