Religious coping styles, meaning, and emotional outcomes within the stress process: an examination of resilience in older adults

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People living with an advanced, chronic illness and loved ones caring for this group often report experiencing both positive and negative emotional outcomes as a result of their situation. The Folkman (1997) Stress Process Model suggests that meaning-based coping is the mechanism that leads to positive emotions and ultimately decreases negative emotions among this group. The current study examined one aspect of the Folkman (1997) model. Specifically, meaning was tested as a mediator of the relation of religious coping styles to gain control and emotional outcomes. Tests of the bivariate associations of study variables were conducted as were tests regressing mastery on the religious coping styles. The effect of race on variables of interest was also assessed. In addition, in-person semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted to provide an in-depth examination of key study variables and their relations. Participants included 35 non-demented care recipients with advanced, chronic illness and 35 family members providing care to this group. This sample included approximately equal numbers of Caucasians and African Americans. Analyses were conducted for care recipients and caregivers separately. Results indicated that meaning was not a mediator of religious coping styles and emotional outcomes. Bivariate associations suggested that the relation between the religious coping styles, meaning, and emotional outcomes varied by race. The religious coping styles were largely not predictive of mastery. Results of the qualitative and quantitative methods converged in several areas: the consequence of religion/spirituality is largely the creation of positive emotion, religious coping styles were not related to meaning, and the religious coping styles were not related to a sense of mastery. Interpretation of results was discussed in consideration of the current research in the area as well as the limitations of the current study. Implications for future qualitative and quantitative research based on study findings were addressed.

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Clinical psychology, Gerontology, Spirituality