Religious/Spiritual Coping in Adolescents with Sickle Cell Disease: A Pilot Study
Summary: Religious/spiritual (R/S) coping has been associated with health outcomes in chronically ill adults; however, little is known about how adolescents use R/S to cope with a chronic illness such as sickle cell disease (SCD). Using a mixed method approach (quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews), we examined R/S coping, spirituality, and health-related quality of life in 48 adolescents with SCD and 42 parents of adolescents with SCD. Adolescents reported high rates of religious attendance and belief in God, prayed often, and had high levels of spirituality (eg, finding meaning/peace in their lives and deriving comfort from faith). Thirty-five percent of adolescents reported praying once or more a day for symptom management. The most common positive R/S coping strategies used by adolescents were: ‘‘Asked forgiveness for my sins’’ (73% of surveys) and ‘‘Sought God’s love and care’’ (73% of surveys). Most parents used R/S coping strategies to cope with their child’s illness. R/S coping was not significantly associated with HRQOL (P= NS). R/S coping, particularly prayer, was relevant for adolescents with SCD and their parents. Future studies should assess adolescents’ preferences for discussing R/S in the medical setting and whether R/S coping is related to HRQOL in larger samples.