Dr. David B. Adams – Psychological Blog

Psychology of Illness, Pain, Anxiety and Depression


religionReligion: “2011 study (1) reports “that chronic pain is a devastating and widespread problem….a recent study of the American Institute of Medicine…chronic pain was found to affect at least 116 million American adults.

…Two-thirds of the chronic pain sufferers experience moderate pain, while one-third experience severe pain (as rated on a 1-10 scale). The most common source of pain reported by chronic pain sufferers is the back (24%), and the most common cause is arthritis/osteoarthrtitis (35%).

Chronic pain seems to be a long-term problem with people suffering on average seven years, but 21% suffers for 20 years or more.

…Twenty percent of the chronic pain sufferers have been diagnosed with depression as a result of their pain and up to half of the chronic pain patients report feelings of helplessness, or inability to think or function normally. …

21% of the chronic pain sufferers stated that they were not able to work due to their pain condition and 31% mentioned they were socially isolated due to the pain…

Despite the negative influence of chronic pain on almost all aspects of the patient’s life, traditional pain management strategies seem not always able to alleviate pain or improve the quality of life.

…science does not answer questions that are inevitably raised by the chronic pain. Patients wonder whether there is a meaning in their suffering or why they have become ill. Questions concerning life, death, purpose and afterlife become prominent.

…in a German study with 580 chronic pain patients, 22% of the patients stated a renewed interest in spiritual/religious issues because of their condition. Moreover, spirituality and religion have a significant bearing on patients’ belief about the meaning of the pain, their strategies to cope with the pain, and their approaches to pain management. Despite this, religion and spirituality are often perceived as personal and private and remain unexplored by health professionals.”

When examining the injured worker regarding their chronic and unrelenting pain, it is important to determine if spirituality and the church offers the patient a better understanding, acceptance and a sense of meaning and purpose to their suffering.

(1) Dezutter, J., Krsinska, K, and Corveleyn, J. (2011) Religious factos in pain management: a psychological perspective. J. Anethethe Clinic Res. 4, 274

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