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Religious/Spiritual Coping in Adolescents With Sickle Cell Disease: A Pilot Study

Cotton, Sian PhD* †; Grossoehme, Daniel DMin, BCC† ‡; Rosenthal, Susan L. PhD§; McGrady, Meghan E. BA; Roberts, Yvonne Humenay MA; Hines, Janelle MA; Yi, Michael S. MD, MSc† ¶; Tsevat, Joel MD, MPH¶ ♯

Journal of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology: May 2009 - Volume 31 - Issue 5 - p 313-318
doi: 10.1097/MPH.0b013e31819e40e3
Original Articles

Religious/spiritual (R/S) coping has been associated with health outcomes in chronically ill adults; however, little is known about how adolescents use R/S to cope with a chronic illness such as sickle cell disease (SCD). Using a mixed method approach (quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews), we examined R/S coping, spirituality, and health-related quality of life in 48 adolescents with SCD and 42 parents of adolescents with SCD. Adolescents reported high rates of religious attendance and belief in God, prayed often, and had high levels of spirituality (eg, finding meaning/peace in their lives and deriving comfort from faith). Thirty-five percent of adolescents reported praying once or more a day for symptom management. The most common positive R/S coping strategies used by adolescents were: “Asked forgiveness for my sins” (73% of surveys) and “Sought God's love and care” (73% of surveys). Most parents used R/S coping strategies to cope with their child's illness. R/S coping was not significantly associated with HRQOL (P=NS). R/S coping, particularly prayer, was relevant for adolescents with SCD and their parents. Future studies should assess adolescents' preferences for discussing R/S in the medical setting and whether R/S coping is related to HRQOL in larger samples.

Departments of *Family Medicine


Internal Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine

Division of Pulmonary Medicine and Department of Pastoral Care, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center

Department of Psychology, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Cincinnati

Health Services Research and Development, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH

§Division of Adolescent and Behavioral Health, University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, Galveston, TX

Funding: National Institute for Child Health and Human Development ♯K23HD052639 (S.C., PI); National Institute for Child Health and Human Development #K23HD044556 (M.S.Y., PI); National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine ♯K24AT001676 (J.T., PI).

Reprints: Sian Cotton, PhD, Departments of Family Medicine and Pediatrics, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, P.O. Box 670840, Cincinnati, OH 45267-0840 (e-mail:

Received for publication November 21, 2008; accepted January 25, 2009

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.