Promoting Research Literacy for Improved Patient Outcomes

Screening for religious/spiritual struggle in blood and marrow transplant patients

Purpose A growing body of research documents the harmful effects of religious/spiritual (R/S) struggle (e.g., feeling abandoned or punished by God) among patients with a wide variety of diagnoses. Documented effects include poorer quality of life, greater emotional distress, poorer recovery, and increased disability. This study reports the use of a screening protocol that identified patients who may have been experiencing R/S struggle. We also examined the prevalence and correlates of possible R/S struggle, its association with quality of life, pain, and depressive symptoms and compared the results from the screening protocol with social workers’ assessments. Methods One hundred seventy-eight blood and marrow transplant patients completed the Electronic Self-Report Assessment—Cancer (ESRA-C) which included the Rush Religious Struggle Screening Protocol and other measures of quality of life, pain, and depressive symptoms prior to transplant therapy. All participants were assessed by a social worker, 90 % within 2 weeks of the ESRA-C assessment. Results Using the Rush Protocol, 18 % of the patients were identified as potentially experiencing R/S struggle. R/S struggle was not reported in any social work assessments. In a multivariable model, potential R/S struggle was more likely in patients who were more recently diagnosed, male, and Asian/Pacific Islanders. There were no significant associations between potential R/S struggle and quality of life, pain, or depressive symptoms. Conclusions Early identification of patients with R/S struggle will facilitate their referral for further assessment and appropriate intervention. Further research is needed to identify the best methods of screening patients for R/S struggle.