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Religion May Have Positive Impact on Schizophrenia Care

Most report religion improves symptoms and helps patients cope with illness

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Many patients with psychotic illnesses report that religion significantly improves their care, although about 14 percent of patients say it causes spiritual despair, according to a study published in the November issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Clinicians are rarely aware of the importance of religion and how it affects patient treatment, according to Philippe Huguelet, M.D., from the University Hospitals of Geneva, Switzerland, and colleagues. They interviewed 115 outpatients with psychotic illness to assess the role of religion "as a mediating variable in the process of coping with psychotic illness."

Most patients (71 percent) reported that religion instilled hope, meaning and purpose in their lives, while a small percentage (14 percent) reported that it instilled spiritual despair. Religion also lessened psychotic and general symptoms, increased social integration, and reduced the risk of suicide attempts and substance use more often than not.

"Our results indicate that the complexity of the relationship between religion and illness requires great sensitivity to each unique story," the authors write. "Spirituality should be integrated into the psychosocial dimension of care."

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