A randomized controlled trial to assess effectiveness of a spiritually-based intervention to help chronically ill adults

Jeanne McCauley, Steffany Haaz, Margaret J. Tarpley, Harold G. Koenig, Susan J. Bartlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objective: Creative, cost-effective ways are needed to help older adults deal effectively with chronic diseases. Spiritual beliefs and practices are often used to deal with health problems. We evaluated whether a minimal intervention, consisting of a video and workbook encouraging use of patient spiritual coping, would be inoffensive and improve perceived health status. Methods: A randomized clinical trial of 100 older, chronically ill adults were assigned to a Spiritual (SPIRIT) or Educational (EDUC-standard cardiac risk reduction) intervention. Individuals in each group were shown a 28-minute video and given a workbook to complete over 4 weeks. Selected psychosocial and health outcome measures were administered at baseline and 6 weeks later. Results: Participants were mostly female (62%), with a mean age of 65.8 ± 9.6 years and had an average of three chronic illnesses. More than 90% were Christian. At baseline, frequent daily spiritual experiences (DSE) were associated with being African American (p < .05) and increased pain (p < .01) and co-morbidities (p ≤ .01). Energy increased significantly (p < .05) in the SPIRIT group and decreased in the EDUC group. Improvements in pain, mood, health perceptions, illness intrusiveness, and selfefficacy were not statistically significant. Conclusions: A minimal intervention encouraging spiritual coping was inoffensive to patients, associated with increased energy, and required no additional clinician time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-105
Number of pages15
JournalInternational journal of psychiatry in medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011



  • aging
  • alternative medicine
  • chronic disease
  • coping
  • spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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