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Pain Research and Management
Volume 13, Issue 5, Pages 383-388
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2008/263751
Original Article

Chronic Pain and Fatigue: Associations with Religion and Spirituality

Marilyn Baetz and Rudy Bowen

Department of Psychiatry, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Copyright © 2008 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. 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.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Conditions with chronic, non-life-threatening pain and fatigue remain a challenge to treat, and are associated with high health care use. Understanding psychological and psychosocial contributing and coping factors, and working with patients to modify them, is one goal of management. An individual’s spirituality and/or religion may be one such factor that can influence the experience of chronic pain or fatigue.

METHODS: The Canadian Community Health Survey (2002) obtained data from 37,000 individuals 15 years of age or older. From these data, four conditions with chronic pain and fatigue were analyzed together – fibromyalgia, back pain, migraine headaches and chronic fatigue syndrome. Additional data from the survey were used to determine how religion and spirituality affect psychological well-being, as well as the use of various coping methods.

RESULTS: Religious persons were less likely to have chronic pain and fatigue, while those who were spiritual but not affiliated with regular worship attendance were more likely to have those conditions. Individuals with chronic pain and fatigue were more likely to use prayer and seek spiritual support as a coping method than the general population. Furthermore, chronic pain and fatigue sufferers who were both religious and spiritual were more likely to have better psychological well-being and use positive coping strategies.

INTERPRETATION: Consideration of an individual’s spirituality and/or religion, and how it may be used in coping may be an additional component to the overall management of chronic pain and fatigue.