According to a recent research project, spirituality and religious belief greatly affect how people deal with cancer. While this was something that people have been aware of for quite some time now, the main idea that this study conveys is that medical professionals should take their patients’ spirituality into consideration when assessing their overall condition, because this might actually play a very important role in the outcome.
The most important parts of a cancer treatment plan are obviously the methods that fight the cancer directly such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy or surgery. But in order for these methods to have the maximum effect on the patient’s outcome, the state of mind of the patient needs to be in line with the desired effects. The bottom line is that a lesser stressed and demoralized patient might have better chances of actually getting a positive outcome from his treatment.
And whether or not the patient is religious, and how he perceives this divinity and the overall idea of what follows death has an extremely important role in the efficacy of the cancer treatment, because it has an immense role in the patient’s perception of his disease.
The recent study was conducted by a team of US researchers from Florida, North Carolina and Arkansas. They performed a meta-analysis of extensive prior research projects, that included more than 44,000 subjects. And after carefully considering each study’s findings and linking them to one another, the researchers noticed certain patters that are worthy of consideration.
One of the most important aspects of the patients’ understanding of divinity is not which gods they actually believe in, but rather how they perceive them. Thus, a positive image of divinity, a loving and merciful god can help patients cope with their disease much better. On the other hand, those who perceive their god as being a strict one, with a rather daunting presence seem to display significantly increased stress and depression levels.
“Patients with stronger spiritual well-being, more benign images of God (…) or stronger beliefs – such as convictions that a personal God can be called upon for assistance – reported better social health.” said Arkansas researcher Dr. Allen Sherman.
Another aspect that the study has revealed is that those patients who perceive their illness to be some sort of a divine punishment end up having a much harder time in seeking assistance for treating it, because they interpret it as being something that they deserve for the sins they have committed.
Moreover, treatment is less efficient in these patients because they experience immense trouble in allowing the treatment to actually work.
Furthermore, patients who do not believe in a god of any kind and who do not believe in a spiritual life after death seem to be much more stressed about their life-threatening conditions.This is extremely understandable, since they experience a much more powerful sense of finality.
By taking these aspects into consideration, the cancer patients might be prescribed specialized psychological assistance, because coming to terms with divinity related issues might affect the success rate of the entire treatment course.
Image Source: natalology