Despite the increasing number of evidence-based research on relational spirituality (RS) and quality of life (QoL) in medical-health research, little is known about the links between RS and QoL outcomes and the mechanisms by which RS aspects are functionally tied to QoL.
To determine how RS is perceived/positioned in relation to QoL, we (a) examined recent available data that identify and appraise the links between RS and QoL; (b) identified themes emerging from the association between RS and QoL, and (c) discussed the implications of the effects of RS on QoL outcomes.
We conducted an integrative research review of English-language peer-reviewed articles published between 2007 to March 2017 which examined an association between RS and QoL, as identified from a search of three databases: PubMed, PsycINFO, and ScienceDirect.
A total of 20 studies were analysed. Of these, twelve (60%) reported positive association between RS and QoL, three (15%) studies reported inverse associations, whereas five (25%) studies showed evidence of lack of association (with two out of the five studies showing an indirect association). Physical health and psychological functioning were the most researched domains of QoL, and some studies suggest an attachment-based model of RS in the last 10 years of RS and QoL research. Studies conducted with participants with serious illnesses ranging from dementia, cardiac arrest, and breast cancer reported no association between RS and physical health. Our review shows evidence of both the direct and/or indirect effects of RS on QoL as a possible spiritual coping model for complementary alternative health therapy, albeit occurring through several religious-related psychosocial conduits.
Conclusion and implication
RS appears to be associated with health benefits as indicated across QoL domains. General medical practitioners and other healthcare agencies could benefit from the understanding that a spiritual coping model could aid their patients, and therefore their clinical practices, in the healing process.