Religious devotion and the psychosocial sequelae of infertility
Jacobson, Hadassa T. Billet
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Clinical research has repeatedly revealed a range of psychosocial symptoms in infertile women, including elevated depression, anxiety, and loneliness. While recent research has explored the interactions of spirituality and religiosity with medical illness, investigation has not focused on how spirituality and religiosity impact the experience of infertility.;63 infertile women participated in a study exploring religious devotion and the psychosocial sequelae of infertility. Research questions explored (1) depression, anxiety, and loneliness in religiously devout women compared to less devout women, (2) the interaction of spiritual well-being with psychosocial measures for devout infertile women and the entire sample, (3) differences in psychosocial functioning between Orthodox Jews and Catholics and the remainder of the sample, and (4) interaction of selected demographics and qualitative data with psychosocial and spiritual adjustment.;Group comparisons revealed differences between the devout and less devout women including lower loneliness scores in women with higher religious well-being (RWB), and more depressive symptomatology in women who reported frequent prayer. Hierarchical regressions showed that lower existential well-being (EWB) was a significant predictor for depression, anxiety, and loneliness in infertile women, while higher RWB was a predictor for depression and anxiety. No differences were observed between infertile Catholic and Orthodox Jewish women, but there was a trend toward elevated depression in those groups compared to the rest of the sample. Finally, length of treatment and length of the couple's relationship emerged as significant predictors for poor psychosocial adjustment in some groups.;The findings from this study suggest that the most salient protective factor for infertile women against negative psychosocial adjustment is a strong feeling of existential well-being. Religious well-being is protective against feelings of loneliness, but it is also a predictor for cognitive anxiety in devout infertile women, in addition to depression and somatic anxiety in all infertile women in the sample. Additionally, the higher levels of depression in Catholic and Orthodox Jewish infertile women suggest that there may be something unique about the psychosocial experience of infertility for women in those two religious groups.