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Spirituality, Demographic and Disease Factors, and Adjustment to Cancer


  • Preparation of this manuscript was supported by National Cancer Institute grant CA57708 (Principal Investigator: Dr. Paul Engstrom), a Fox Chase Cancer Center Institutional Grant sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (PI: Dr. Robert Schnoll), and National Cancer Institute grant CA50087 (PI: Dr. James Prochaska).

Address for correspondence: Robert A. Schnoll, PhD, Fox Chase Cancer Center, 510 Township Line Road, Cheltenham, PA 19012.


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between demographic-disease variables, spirituality, and psychosocial adjustment in a heterogeneous sample of patients with cancer.

description of Study: Participants (N = 83) accrued through the Rhode Island Hospital and the American Cancer Society completed questionnaires, and structural equation modeling was used to examine the relationships among disease and demographic factors, spirituality, and psychosocial adjustment to cancer.

Results: Of five models tested, a mediational model received the strongest support (chi-square(35)-66.61; P = .005; comparative fit index = .90; root mean square error of approximation = .09), explaining 64% of the variance in psychosocial adjustment. Being a woman, having a longer illness duration, and having a lower disease stage were related to greater levels of purpose in life and religious/existential beliefs, which, in turn, were associated with higher levels of family and social adjustment and psychological health.

clinical Implications: The results indicate that spirituality can influence how patients with cancer adjust to their diagnosis and treatment and, thus, support the need for interventions that target spirituality to promote psychosocial adjustment in this population.