Coping with cancer: Associations among religiousness, religious coping, health locurs of control, and psychological functioning
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Cancer patients have many sources of stress compared to healthy people and people with other illnesses (Lin & Bauer-Wu, 2003). Effectively coping with the psychological distress associated with cancer diagnosis and treatment is important in maintaining mental health. Recent reviews (for examples, see Lin & Bauer-WU, 2003; Thuné-Boyle, Stygall, Keshtgar, & Newman, 2005) provide evidence for positive associations between aspects of religious coping and quality of life, adjustment, and well-being among cancer patients. However, null and negative associations among these variables have been reported as well. Therefore, the effectiveness of using religious coping with cancer was unclear and needed future research (Kendrick & Koenig, 2000). The current study examined how one’s religiousness may be used during a cancer patient’s coping experience. More specifically, the current study researched the relationships among religiousness, religious coping, health locus of control, and psychological functioning among cancer patients. Results indicated associations among religiousness, religious coping, and health locus of control beliefs, as expected. Results also indicated that religiousness and God health locus of control were associated with increased satisfaction with life and greater positive affect. Collaborative religious coping was also found to be associated with increased satisfaction with life. Several hypothesized relationships were not supported. For example, there was no evidence that religiousness was negatively associated with negative affect. Active surrender religious coping, internal health locus of control, and God health locus of control were not found to be associated with enhanced psychological functioning. Pleading religious coping and chance health locus of control were not found to be associated with diminished psychological functioning. Finally, none of the mediating and moderating relationships hypothesized in this study were supported. In summary, results indicate that religion, Christianity in particular, tends to be important to cancer patients in the Southwestern United States, and is used in their coping process. Since religiousness and religious coping have been associated with well-being in this study, it can be argued that it would be beneficial for helping professionals to initiate conversations with cancer patients about religious issues. The discussion includes directions for future research as well as implications for mental health professionals, religious counselors, and medical staff in a position to offer support to cancer patients.