The research looked at 200 stroke survivors with an average age of 71, with low to medium level disabilities, and their caregivers, questioning them about their spirituality, depression and quality of life over a two-year period.
The questions were drawn from the World Health Organization, covering physical, psychological, social and environmental aspects.
The study’s lead author, Gianluca Pucciarelli, Ph.D., FAHA, research fellow at the University of Rome, said while research has shown spirituality may help patients cope with illness, few studies have examined the impact of spirituality on stroke survivors and their carers.
Key conclusions of the study were that there is a strong relationship between spirituality and quality of life; that both stroke survivors and caregivers with a higher level of spirituality had a higher quality of life; and stroke survivors with a lower degree of spirituality had a lower quality of life, with their caregivers being more prone to depression.
In effect, the survivor's spirituality is a key influential factor when it comes to a better or worse quality of life.
Pucciarelli said spirituality played a “protective” role in illness and should be studied more; and that there should be greater awareness about the importance of spirituality among health professionals.
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