Advancing Spiritual Care Through Research

Positive and Negative Religious Coping in German Breast Cancer Patients

A growing interest has been focusing on the relationship between religious coping and psychosocial adjustment among cancer patients. However, previous research mostly has not differentiated between positive and negative components of religious coping. The current cross-sectional study investigated the role of both positive religious coping, i.e., a confident and constructive turning to religion, and negative religious coping, i.e., religious struggle and doubt, in a sample of 156 German breast cancer patients. Participants were assessed upon admission to an inpatient rehabilitation program. In addition to religious coping, two basic non-religious coping styles (depressive coping and active problem-focused coping) and psychosocial adjustment (anxiety and depression) were measured. Major research questions concerning the mediating role of nonreligious coping and the relative predictive power of positive and negative religious coping were primarily addressed using structural equation modeling. Results indicated that the relationship between religious coping and psychosocial outcomes was completely mediated by nonreligious coping, whereby only depressive coping and not active problem-focused coping proved to be a mediating variable. Positive and negative religious coping were somewhat positively related to each other; their (indirect) predictive power on psychosocial adjustment was identical though in an opposite direction. All in all, the results correspond to previous Anglo-American research. There are, however, some discrepancies which may be due to the specific religious-cultural background in Germany.