Religion and Spirituality in Rehabilitation Outcomes Among Individuals With Traumatic Brain Injury

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Objective: The long-term consequences of traumatic brain injury affect millions of Americans, many of whom report using religion and spirituality to cope. Little research, however, has investigated how various elements of the religious and spiritual belief systems affect rehabilitation outcomes. The present study sought to assess the use of specifically defined elements of religion and spirituality as psychosocial resources in a sample of traumatically brain injured adults. Participants: The sample included 88 adults with brain injury from 1 to 20 years post injury and their knowledgeable significant others (SOs). The majority of the participants with brain injury were male (76%), African American (75%) and Christian (76%). Measures: Participants subjectively reported on their religious/spiritual beliefs and psychosocial resources as well as their current physical and psychological status. Significant others reported objective rehabilitation outcomes. Analyses: Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were used to determine the proportion of variance in outcomes accounted for by demographic, injury related, psychosocial and religious/spiritual variables. Results: The results indicate that religious well-being (a sense of connection to a higher power) was a unique predictor for life satisfaction, distress and functional ability whereas public religious practice and existential well-being were not. Conclusions: The findings of this project indicate that specific facets of religious and spiritual belief systems do play direct and unique roles in predicting rehabilitation outcomes whereas religious activity does not. Notably, a self-reported individual connection to a higher power was an extremely robust predictor of both subjective and objective outcome.

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