Is Belonging to a Religious Organization Enough? Differences in Religious Affiliation Versus Self-Ratings of Spirituality on Behavioral and Psychological Variables in Individuals with Heart Failure

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In the United States, heart failure (HF) affects approximately 6.5 million adults. While studies show that individuals with HF often suffer from adverse symptoms such as depression and anxiety, studies also show that these symptoms can be at least partially offset by the presence of spiritual wellbeing. In a sample of 327 men and women with AHA/ACC classification Stage B HF, we found that more spirituality in patients was associated with better clinically-related symptoms such as depressed mood and anxiety, emotional variables (affect, anger), well-being (optimism, satisfaction with life), and physical health-related outcomes (fatigue, sleep quality). These patients also showed better self-efficacy to maintain cardiac function. Simply belonging to a religious organization independent of spiritualty, however, was not a reliable predictor of health-related benefits. In fact, we observed instances of belonging to a religious organization unaccompanied by parallel spiritual ratings, which appeared counterproductive.