Lead author David H. Rosmarin of the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital suggests mental health professionals integrate patients' spiritual beliefs into their treatment regimens, especially for patients who are religious.
"The implications of this paper for the field of psychiatry are that we have to take patients' spirituality more seriously than we do," Rosmarin says in a statement. "Most practitioners are unprepared to conceptualize how spiritual beliefs may contribute to affective states and thus many struggle to integrate such themes into treatment in a spiritually sensitive manner."
One study questioned 332 subjects solicited from religious Web sites and religious organizations that included Christians and Jews. The study found those who trusted in God to look out for them had lower levels of worry and less intolerance of uncertainty in their lives than those who had a "mistrust" of God to help them out, Rosmarin says.
The second study was of 125 subjects from Jewish organizations were shown an audio-video program designed to increase trust in God and decrease mistrust in God. Participants in the two-week program reported significant increases in trust in God as well as clinically and statistically significant decreases in intolerance of uncertainty, worry and stress.
The findings were reported at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Washington and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.