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Title: The role of religious and spiritual belief and practice in coping and adjusting to spousal bereavement in later life.
Author: Spreadbury, John Henry
ISNI:       0000 0004 2705 4519
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2011
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The death of a spouse is a distressing life event that is most common in later life. Recently, a small body of research has suggested that religion and spirituality can have a beneficial influence on bereavement outcome. The aim of the present thesis was to investigate how Christian religious/spiritual belief and practice can facilitate coping and adjustment to spousal bereavement in later life. The present thesis reports four studies, two qualitative and two quantitative. Study 1 was a longitudinal follow-up of survivors from a previous study of spousal bereavement, and investigated experiences of longer term coping and adjustment. Results identified that participants used both religious and secular resources in adjustment and that those with a strong religious belief reported adjustment marked by the least difficulties. Study 2 focused on older adults with a strong Christian belief and aimed to identify the religious content and practice most important in coping with spousal bereavement. Interpretative phenomenological analysis revealed four main themes: benevolent religious cognition, Biblical assurances, religious ritual, and spiritual capital, that in different ways were related to meaning reconstruction. As religious ritual seemed important yet is under researched, Study 3 aimed to develop the first scale of its kind to measure religious ritual. A 35-item scale was developed, named the Importance of Religious Ritual Scale, and psychometric properties were provided including factor structure, construct validity, internal consistency reliability, and temporal reliability. Study 4 included the religious ritual scale in a cross-sectional study comparing salient religious and secular variables in predicting grief, depression, and anxiety in recently bereaved older adults. Results revealed that high importance of religious ritual was a predictor of lower grief and depression; and daily spiritual experience was a predictor of lower anxiety. It is proposed that benevolent religious beliefs and religious scripture are used in meaningmaking processes, while religious ritual and religious/spiritual emotions are primarily used in managing and regulating grief-related affect. Findings are discussed within existing bereavement theory
Supervisor: Coleman, Peter Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology