Background Although spirituality has been identified as a psychological resource relevant to coping with caregiving stress, little is known about the differential roles of spirituality's facets in bereaved caregivers' adjustment. Purpose This study examined this question with regard to bereavement-specific and general distress in cancer caregivers. Methods Cancer caregivers provided data at 2 years after their relative's diagnosis when all the patients were alive (Time 1, preloss) and 3 years later, after the patient had died (Time 2, postloss: N = 128). Demographics and three facets of spirituality (meaning, peace, and faith) were measured at Time 1. Psychological distress and time since the death were measured at Time 2. Results Younger age, less education, and being a spousal caregiver of the patient related to greater bereavement-specific and general distress (ts = 2.02, ps < .05, partial η2 = .15). Above and beyond these demographic factors, two preloss spirituality facets related to postloss distress. Specifically, a greater sense of inner peace at preloss was prospectively associated with less bereavement-specific distress (both intrusive thoughts and hyperarousal, ts = 2.24, ps < .05, partial η2 = .41). Greater reliance on faith at preloss was also prospectively associated with lower intrusive thoughts (t = 2.24, p < .05, partial η2 = .34). Conclusion Findings highlight the importance of preloss sense of peace as a predictor of psychological distress during bereavement. Programs and interventions might be designed to help caregivers find inner peace while caregiving, in an effort to augment their resiliency against psychological distress when facing the loss of the patient.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health