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Keywords:

  • cancer;
  • religious beliefs;
  • social support;
  • self-efficacy;
  • adjustment

Abstract

Purpose: Religious beliefs have received relatively little attention in research on coping with cancer. In this study, the relationship of religious beliefs and perceived social support with adjustment to cancer was studied in a coping model that included self-efficacy for coping as a mediator. Of particular interest was the relationship between religious beliefs and social support.

Method: Data were collected from 164 in-treatment cancer patients. They completed measures of religious beliefs, social support, physical functioning, self-efficacy for coping, and adjustment. A model comparison approach was used to assess the fit of models that included or excluded the contribution of religious beliefs while testing the relationship between religious beliefs and social support.

Results: Religious beliefs were more strongly connected to perceived social support than with other constructs. Importantly, a coping model that included religious beliefs fit the data significantly better than a model without paths related to religious beliefs. Self-efficacy partially mediated the relation of age, physical functioning, and perceived support to adjustment, but not religious beliefs.

Discussion: Religious beliefs may not directly affect self-efficacy and adjustment; however, cancer patients who have religious beliefs may experience an enhanced sense of social support from a community with whom they share those beliefs. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.