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Southern Medical Journal:
doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e318167a97a
Original Article

Faith-Based Intervention in Depression, Anxiety, and Other Mental Disturbances

Hurst, George A. MD, FACP, FCCP; Williams, Marion G. BS; King, Judith E. LMSW, ACSW; Viken, Richard MD

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Abstract

Objective: To determine if the effects of using the Steps to Freedom would be beneficial for a group of individuals who attended a Christian Conference.

Methods: A user-friendly 12-item questionnaire was used to monitor the outcomes of Steps to Freedom addressing six symptom/behavioral problems and six function areas. In addition, the Symptom Checklist-90 R (SCL-90-R) questionnaire was employed to document the validity of the shorter questionnaire. The questionnaires were completed before and after the administration of the Steps to Freedom. The Wilcoxon matched pairs test was used to measure the significance of the findings for the 12-item questionnaire.

Results: Thirty-three clients who went through the Steps to Freedom showed statistically significant improvement (P ≤ 0.005) at 3 to 4 months in all symptom/behavior categories (items 1–6). All function areas (items 7–12) also demonstrated statistically significant improvement (P ≤ 0.05). A comparison group who did not attend the conference or receive counseling showed no significant changes during the same period.

Conclusions: These significant preliminary findings need to be confirmed by additional studies. Steps to Freedom model prayers, used by individual patients personally and/or with a counselor, could expand the care and hopefully lower the cost of mental illness.

Key Points

* Mental illness is common and costly. Depression and anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses.

* Research on outcomes of intentional religion in mental illness is uncommon.

* Benefits of Steps to Freedom, a faith-based example of intentional religion, on depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders are reported.

© 2008 Southern Medical Association

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