Spiritual struggles and interleukin-6: assessing potential benefits and potential risks
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the relationship between spiritual struggles and levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) with a subsample (N = 943) of participants who took part in a nationwide survey. This study, which was completed in 2014, was conducted in the United States. Spiritual struggles refer to difficulties that a person may encounter with his or her faith and include having a troubled relationship with God, encountering difficulties with religious others, and being unable to find a sense of ultimate meaning in life. Based on the notion that spiritual struggles may be associated with personal growth as well physical health problems, it was hypothesized that there is a nonlinear relationship between the two: levels of IL-6 will decline at relatively low levels of spiritual struggles, but levels of IL-6 will increase as spiritual struggles become more severe. The findings support this hypothesis and suggest there is a quadratic relationship between spiritual struggles and IL-6. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed.
Note: this article featured in the ACPE Research Network December 2017 Article of the Month.