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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 128575, 8 pages
Research Article

Faith as a Resource in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis Is Associated with a Positive Interpretation of Illness and Experience of Gratitude/Awe

1Quality of Life, Spirituality and Coping, Institute of Integrative Medicine, Witten/Herdecke University, 58313 Herdecke, Germany
2Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS), Universität Freiburg, 79098 Freiburg, Germany
3Department of Neurology, Communal Hospital Herdecke, 58313 Herdecke, Germany
4Department of Neurology and Palliative Care, Köln-Merheim Hospital, 51109 Cologne, Germany
5Neurological Hospital, Clinic of Lüdenscheid, 58515 Lüdenscheid, Germany
6Augusta Hospital Anholt, Neurological Hospital, 46419 Isselburg, Germany
7Caritas Science and Christian Social Work, Faculty of Theology, Albert-Ludwigs University, 79104 Freiburg, Germany
8Institute of Integrative Medicine, Witten/Herdecke University, 58313 Herdecke, Germany

Received 28 May 2013; Accepted 25 September 2013

Academic Editor: John Swinton

Copyright © 2013 Arndt Büssing et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The aim of this cross-sectional anonymous survey with standardized questionnaires was to investigate which resources to cope were used by patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). We focussed on patients' conviction that their faith might be a strong hold in difficult times and on their engagement in different forms of spirituality. Consecutively 213 German patients (75% women; mean age 43 ± 11 years) were enrolled. Fifty-five percent regarded themselves as neither religious nor spiritual (R−S−), while 31% describe themselves as religious. For 29%, faith was a strong hold in difficult times. This resource was neither related to patients' EDSS scores, and life affections, fatigue, negative mood states, life satisfaction nor to Positive attitudes. Instead it was moderately associated with a Reappraisal strategy (i.e., and positive interpretation of illness) and experience of gratitude/awe. Compared to spiritual/religious patients, R−S− individuals had significantly ( ) lower Reappraisal scores and lower engagement in specific forms of spiritual practices. The ability to reflect on what is essential in life, to appreciate and value life, and also the conviction that illness may have meaning and could be regarded as a chance for development was low in R−S− individuals which either may have no specific interest or are less willing to reflect these issues.