Religion and Coping in Mental Health Care

By Joseph Pieper; Marinus Van Uden | Go to book overview
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1. Introduction

Measuring coping has become widespread in the second generation of coping researchers in clinical and social psychology, where it replaced the psychodynamic ego development perspective. This generation emphasises processes rather than structures (personality traits). The processes are treated as transactions between person and environment. In these transactions, cognitions and behaviours are rated more highly than before (Suls et al. 1996). Lazarus and Folkman are well-known representatives of this generation. Together with others they developed the Ways of Coping Scale. The scale consists of eight subscales: confrontive coping, distancing, self-control, seeking social support, accepting responsibility, escape-avoidance, planful problem solving and positive reappraisal (Folkman et al. 1986). The last subscale contains two religious items: 'found new faith' and 'I prayed'. Carver et al. (1989) have extended this scale. Their new scale (COPE) consists of thirteen subscales. The last subscale is called 'turning to religion' and contains four items: 'I seek God's help', 'I put my trust in God', 'I try to find comfort in my religion' and 'I pray more than usual'. In a study of women in treatment for early-stage breast cancer, these items were changed into: 'I've been getting emotional support from the people in my church'; 'I've been going to church or prayer meetings'; 'I've been talking with my priest or minister'; 'I've been trying to find comfort in my religion or spiritual beliefs' (Alferi et al. 1999, 347). Parker & Brown (1982) found six dimensions of coping behaviour: recklessness, socialisation, distraction, problem solving, passivity and self-consolation. They used one religious item ('I prayed'). This item was part of the problem-solving dimension. All these scales lack systematic treatment of the place of religion in the coping process.


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