The Effect of Religious and Spiritual Interventions on the Biological, Psychological, and Spiritual Outcomes of Oncology Patients: A Meta-Analytic Review
Department of Psychiatry
Medical Subject Headings
Religion; Mental Healing; Spirituality; Neoplasms; Treatment Outcome
Neoplasms | Psychiatry
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.