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Belief in God Tied to Greater Psychiatric Treatment Response

Belief in God linked to reduced depression, self-harm even after controlling for age and gender

MONDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- Belief in God, but not religious affiliation, is associated with a greater likelihood of treatment response among psychiatric outpatients, according to a study published in the April 25 issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders.

David H. Rosmarin, Ph.D., from McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School in Belmont, Mass., and colleagues conducted a prospective study involving 159 patients in a day-treatment program at a psychiatric hospital to examine the correlation between belief in God and treatment outcomes. Prior to treatment they assessed belief in God, treatment credibility/expectancy, emotion regulation, and congregational support.

The researchers found that among treatment responders, belief in God was significantly higher compared with non-responders. Greater reductions in depression and self-harm and greater improvements in psychological well-being also correlated significantly with higher levels of belief. The correlation between belief and changes in depression and self-harm persisted even after controlling for age and gender. The relationship between belief in God and depression was mediated by perceived treatment credibility/expectancy, but not by emotional regulation or community support. Associations with other outcomes were not mediated by any variables. Religious affiliation was linked to treatment credibility/expectancy, but did not impact treatment outcomes.

"Our findings represent a meaningful advancement in that they provide a potential theoretical explanation for a path through which spirituality may impact psychiatric treatment outcomes," the authors write. "Given the prevalence of spirituality in patient populations, it is hoped that further research will shed more light onto this understudied yet important subject."

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