Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

The psychological study of religion and spirituality in a disaster context: A systematic review

OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this systematic review is to synthesize the existing empirical psychology of religion/spirituality (R/S) and disaster research and offer a prospectus for future research. METHOD: Searches were conducted in PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, Medline databases, and through personal communication with study authors covering a period from 1975 (from the earliest identified study meeting our criteria) to 2015. Studies that took an empirical approach to studying the impact of disasters on R/S phenomena, as well as the relationship between R/S phenomena, cognition, behavior, and well-being in disaster contexts were included. RESULTS: A total of 51 articles met the inclusion criteria. We organized the empirical findings under five main categories, which emerged from sorting studies by their primary R/S focus: (a) general religiousness, (b) God representations, (c) religious appraisals, (d) R/S meaning making, and (e) religious coping. On the whole, R/S appears to generally lead to positive outcomes among disaster survivors. Results suggest positive benefits of R/S comes more from how one engages faith and access to resources via R/S communities. CONCLUSIONS: This review revealed several emerging patterns regarding what is known as well as existing gaps in the literature, including the need for more rigorous methodological designs and ongoing systematic programs of study. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).