Secular and Religious Coping by Mothers of Children with Cancer




Hall, Sarah E.

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The main purpose of this study was to investigate whether religious beliefs, coping, and social support explain additional variance in the prediction of psychological adjustment in mothers of children with cancer beyond the variance explained by secular predictors of these constructs. Ninety-four mothers of children with cancer completed standardized measures of anxiety, depression, satisfaction with life, self-esteem, optimism, social support, approach and avoidant coping, religious belief, and positive and negative religious coping. Of the religious coping variables studied, only negative religious coping accounted for variance in the adjustment of mothers beyond the variance accounted for by the secular measures. Specifically, negative religious coping explained additional variance in mother’s satisfaction with life, anxiety and depression. In their responses to open-ended questions, the majority of mothers said that their religious beliefs and practices were helpful to them in coping with their child's illness. These findings suggest that while, overall, secular variables are recommended in quantitative assessment and treatment for mothers of children with cancer, clinicians should consider negative religious coping as a potential risk factor for increased distress and decreases in satisfaction with life. In addition, open-ended questions about mother's religiosity can help in understanding how they may best cope with their child's illness.



Coping, Religion, Mothers, Cancer, Children