Prjchological Reports, 1990,66, 857-858. O Psychological Reports 1990
PATIENTS' AND SPOUSES' RELIGIOUS PROBLEM-SOLVING STYLES AND THEIR PHYSIOLOGICAL HEALTH' PAUL YELSMA
Deparfment of Communication, \&sfern Michigan UniversiQ
School of Nursing, Universi~of North Carolina, Wilmingfon
Summary.-From 55 patients after myocardial infarctions and their spouses, responses-metabolic entry and exit scores (1 to 48 mo. postinfarct) and scores on three religious problem-solving styles-showed no problem-solving styles were associated with patients' early improvement but, as time passed, scores on collaboration with God decreased as did those on deferring to God, while self-direction increased. Patients scored lower on collaboration and higher on self-direction than spouses.
A considerable body of research (Pargament & Hahn, 1968; Batson & Ventis, 1982; Lazarus & F o h a n , 1984; Levin & Schiller, 1987; Waltz, 1986) indicates a link between individuals' religious or spiritual orientations and their physiological wellness. No research, however, has specifically explored the relationship between patients' religious problem-solving styles and their recovery after physiological illnesses. Furthermore, no research has examined whether differences between patients' and spouses' religious problem-solving styles are possible indicators of patients' physiological wellness. The present study assessed whether spiritually-based problem-solving styles are related to patients' recovery and are attributes of spouses' physiological wellness. Two questions were explored: (1) are there relationships between patients' t h e religious problem-solving styles and their physiological recovery during a 12-wk. rehabilitation program, after experiencing a myocar&al infarction (MI) and coronary artery bypass graft surgery, and (2) are there differences between patients' (who experienced MI) and spouses' (who had not experienced MI) three religious problem-solvlng sr yles? A sample of 55 couples was tested (43 of the patients were men and 12 were women; their avenge age was 58 yr.). The patients had completed a 12-wk. cardiac rehabilitation program at one of two southwestern Michigan hospitals. Stress test data (MET scores) were collected upon entry into and discharge from two identical hospital rehabilitation programs. A MET is defined as the METabolic unit, or myocardial oxygen consumption, estimated from a formula of heart rate times the systolic blood-pressure reading (Davis & Spillman, 1987). Patients' physiological improvement was assessed by the difference between their MET-entry and MET-exit scores. In addition to obtaining patients' physiological improvement data, self-report data were collected, from 1 to 48 mo. after patients exited the rehabihtadon program. A questionnaire, on three religious problem-solving styles (Pargament, et al., 1988), was given separately to each of the 55 patients and their spouses. The three religious problem-solving styles are: self-directing-God grants me freedom to solve my own problems by myself, collaborative-God and I actively work together to solve my problems, deferring-I turn my problems over to God and wait for His solutions to emerge (12 items are combined to assess each style). The data pertaining to the first question were analyzed by linear regression. None of the three problem-solving styles were significantly associated with the patients' physiological improvement during the 12-wk. rehabilitation period. However, those patients who were more removed from
'Address correspondence to Paul Yelsma, Ph.D., Department of Communication, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5090.
l? YELSMA & L. MONTAMBO
the illness experience by the passing of time (1 to 48 mo.) reported a decrease in collaboration with God ( t = 2.93, p< .004, R' = 7.4), an increase in theit self-direction (t = 2.75, p< .007, R' = 7.4), and a decrease in their deferring to God (t = 2.5, p < .01, R' = 5.5). Patients appeared to rely less on a personal exchange with God and more on their own personal control as time elapsed since the experience of illness. The data for the second question were analyzed, utilizing a 2 x 3 analysis of variance, to identify dzferences between patients' and spouses' ongoing religious problem-solving styles. These results indicated that patients showed lower collaborative problem-solving (F,,,,, = 3.79, p < .05, eta2 = .03) and higher self-directed problem-solving (F,,,,, = 5.78, p