Exploring the relationship between spirituality, coping, and pain

Amy B. Wachholtz, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Michelle J. Pearce, Duke University Medical Center
Harold Koenig, Duke University Medical Center

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

Abstract

There is growing recognition that persistent pain is a complex and multidimensional experience stemming from the interrelationship among biological, psychological, social, and spiritual factors. Chronic pain patients use a number of cognitive and behavioral strategies to cope with their pain, including religious/spiritual forms of coping, such as prayer, and seeking spiritual support to manage their pain. This article will explore the relationship between the experience of pain and religion/spirituality with the aim of understanding not only why some people rely on their faith to cope with pain, but also how religion/spirituality may impact the experience of pain and help or hinder the coping process. We will also identify future research priorities that may provide fruitful research in illuminating the relationship between religion/spirituality and pain.