Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Religion, Spirituality, and Health Outcomes in Cancer: A Case for a Meta-Analystic Investigation

ABSTRACT: A growing body of research shows that a majority of patients with cancer report having religious and spiritual (R/S) beliefs, engaging in R/S behaviors, or deriving comfort from R/S experiences. These studies have been reviewed but not subjected to rigorous critical analysis. A meta-analytic approach is needed to provide a more definitive understanding of the relationships between R/S (affective, behavioral, and cognitive dimensions) and physical, mental, and social health in all phases of cancer including diagnosis, treatment, survivorship, and palliative care. A meta-analysis can quantify the degree of association between R/S dimensions and patient-reported health outcomes and the conditions under which these associations are strengthened or attenuated. Results can, in turn, help focus future work in this area by highlighting key variables for inclusion in studies of R/S and cancer and identifying particular subgroups for whom dimensions of R/S are particularly important to their health.