Types of spiritual well-being among persons with chronic illness: Their relation to various forms of quality of life

Barth B. Riley*, Robert Perna, Denise G. Tate, Marty Forchheimer, Cheryl Anderson, Gail Luera

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Objectives: Derive a spiritual well-being classification and thereby enhance understanding of the relation between spiritual well-being, quality of life (QOL), and health among persons with chronic illness or disability. Design: Cluster analyses were performed to develop a spiritual well-being classification. Analysis of variance was used to compare cluster groups on various dimensions of QOL. Setting: Part of a larger QOL study conducted at a midwestern medical center. Patients: A convenience sample of 216 inpatients: amputation (n = 74), postpolio (n = 37), spinal cord injury (n = 34), breast cancer (n = 36), and prostate cancer (n = 35). Minors were excluded from the study. Main Outcome Measures: Spiritual Well-Being Scale (SWBS), Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT), Functional Living Index-Cancer (FLIC), Sickness Impact Profile (SIP), Medical Outcome Survey-Short Form (SF-36), and the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS). Results: Three types of spiritual well-being were identified: religious (n = 146), existential (n = 37), and nonspiritual (n = 30). Significant cluster differences (p < .03 to p < .001) were observed across all QOL domains and life satisfaction. Compared with the other cluster groups, the nonspiritual group reported significantly lower levels of QOL and life satisfaction and the highest proportion of health status change with respect to both improvement and decline in health. Conclusions: Three types of spiritual well-being were empirically identified in this sample. Subtypes differed significantly with respect to various aspects of QOL. Further research is needed to validate this classification and to determine if type of spiritual well-being has a causal effect on treatment outcome or on the recovery process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-264
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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