Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Prevalence of Religious and Spiritual Experiences and the Perceived Influence Thereof in Patients With Bipolar Disorder in a Dutch Specialist Outpatient Center

The aim of the current cross-sectional study was to estimate the prevalence of religious and spiritual (R/S) experiences and their perceived lasting influence in outpatients with bipolar disorder (BD; n = 196). A questionnaire with a range of R/S was constructed, building on the results of an earlier qualitative study. Experiences of horizontal transcendence (not necessarily referring to the divine) such as the experience of “intense happiness, love, peace, beauty, freedom” (77%) or “meaningful synchronicity” (66%) were the most prevalent. The experience of “divine presence” (vertical transcendence, referring to the divine) had a prevalence of 44%. Perceived lasting influence of the experiences was 20% to 67% of the total frequency, depending on the type. Most positive R/S experiences were significantly more related to BD I and mania, and on average, persons with BD I had more R/S experiences (mean = 4.5, SD = 2.6) than those with BD II (mean = 2.8, SD = 2.4, p = 0.000). Patient-reported R/S experiences in BD can have both R/S and pathological features.