Does Religiosity Predict Attrition From a Culturally-Informed Family Treatment for Schizophrenia That Targets Religious Coping?

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Abstract

Objective: People dealing with serious mental illness frequently report turning to religion to help cope with the disorder. However, little is known about how religion impacts commitment to psychotherapy programs for people with schizophrenia and their caregivers. Method: In a sample of 64 families enrolled in a culturally informed family treatment for schizophrenia that targets religiosity, we hypothesized that patients and caregivers who use high levels of adaptive religious coping and low levels of maladaptive religious coping, would be less likely to drop out of treatment than their counterparts. Results: In line with hypotheses, results demonstrated that greater maladaptive religious coping was associated with fewer family therapy sessions attended. Contrary to expectations, greater adaptive religious coping was also associated with attending fewer family therapy sessions. Conclusion: Results suggest that any type of religious coping may be associated with higher levels of attrition from family therapy. Perhaps spiritual/religious people are already getting support and guidance from their beliefs and practices that aid them in coping with mental illness. Results may also suggest that there is a “religiosity gap” in which religious individuals perceive a disconnect between their beliefs and the beliefs of their mental health providers. It is important to point out that in this study, of those who dropped out prematurely, nearly all did so before the religiosity segment of treatment even began. Modifying how family treatments are introduced early on in therapy to ensure they appear congruent with the beliefs and values of religious families may help to reduce attrition.

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