Spirituality Sought in Wake of 9/11

Study finds many Americans felt need for faith following attacks

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FRIDAY, Oct. 8, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Americans felt a strong need for spiritual support and a positive outlook to cope with what happened, says a study by University of Washington and University of Michigan researchers.

The study of college students at those two universities and the University of Nevada found that, regardless of religion or lack of one, many used spiritual coping.

Sixty-two percent of the students relied on prayer to handle stress-related difficulties.

"They prayed to different gods or things, but they had a sense of connectedness," lead author Amy Ai, an associate professor of social work at the University of Washington, said in a prepared statement. "We found this sense of connection no matter who people were or where they were in the country. This may be because they had a strong new identify of being Americans at a spiritual level."

"Positive attitudes are a big key to spiritual support and people need connections to others. If you have more resources, a greater sense of spiritual connections, you will have a more positive outlook," Ai said.

She and her colleagues were surprised to find that distance from the sites of the terrorists attacks had no effect on the post 9/11 distress experienced by the students.

"We thought distance would have an effect on anxiety or depression, because it did in an earlier study that looked at the Oklahoma City federal building bombing in 1995," Ai said.

The findings will appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Personality.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about how emotions affect you health.

SOURCE: University of Washington, news release, October 2004

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