Title

The Effect of Religious and Spiritual Interventions on the Biological, Psychological, and Spiritual Outcomes of Oncology Patients: A Meta-Analytic Review

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Date

1-2004

Document Type

Article

Medical Subject Headings

Religion; Mental Healing; Spirituality; Neoplasms; Treatment Outcome

Disciplines

Neoplasms | Psychiatry

Abstract

In addition to biomedical forms of treatment, many cancer patients have elected to use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) of a spiritual or religious nature. However, the effectiveness of such spiritual and religious interventions is uncertain. Using a meta-analytic approach, the present study synthesized available treatment-outcome studies on spiritual and religious interventions for cancer patients to determine the efficacy of such interventions. Effect sizes were calculated for three types of outcome measures: biological, psychological, and spiritual. The authors found that non-drug spiritual and religious interventions produced small to moderate effect sizes for treatment versus control comparisons and small effect sizes for pre- versus post-treatment comparisons. Studies that used psychedelic drugs to promote spiritual experiences produced large effect sizes for both treatment versus control and pre- versus post-treatment comparisons. Finally, they found that, overall, treatment versus control comparisons produced larger effect sizes than did pre- versus post-treatment comparisons. Limitations of the studies discussed in the present meta-analysis included the lack of control groups, randomization, and a large number of participants. The results suggest that there is a shortage of sufficiently detailed, high-quality treatment outcome studies examining the efficacy of spiritual and religious interventions for oncology patients.

Comments

Citation: Kaplar, M., Wachholtz, A., & O’Brien, W. (2004). The Effect of Religious and Spiritual Interventions on the Biological, Psychological, and Spiritual Outcomes of Oncology Patients: A Meta-Analytic Review. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, 22(1), 39-49. DOI: 10.1300/J077v22n01_03

At the time of publication, Amy B. Wachholtz was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.