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A meta-analysis of the relationship between spirituality and quality of life Sawatzky, Rick

Abstract

The relationship between spirituality and various dimensions of health and quality of life has been extensively examined during the past decade. Though several literature reviews have been conducted in an attempt to synthesize research findings pertaining to the relationship between spirituality and dimensions of health, a meta-analysis of studies examining spirituality in relation to quality of life has not been identified. The present study was therefore designed to: (a) determine whether there is empirical support for a relationship between spirituality and quality of life, (b) provide an estimate of the strength of this relationship, (c) hypothesize and examine the existence of any potential moderating variables affecting this relationship, and (d) contribute to the conceptualization of spirituality in relation to quality of life. The research design followed methods for quantitative meta-synthesis as discussed by Lipsey and Wilson (2001), Cooper and Hedges (1994), and Hunter and Schmidt (1990). Potential moderating effects of several methodological differences and sample characteristics were examined using meta-analytic approaches to multivariate regression and analysis of variance. An extensive multidisciplinary literature search resulted in 3,040 published reports that were manually screened according to pre-established selection criteria. Subsequent to the selection process, 62 primary effect sizes from 51 studies were included in the final analysis. A random effects model analysis of the bivariate correlation between spirituality and quality of life resulted in a moderate effect size (r = 0.34, 95% CI: 0.28 - 0.40), thereby providing support for the theoretical framework underlying this study wherein spirituality is depicted as a unique concept that stands in relationship to quality of life. Subsequent regression analyses indicated that differences between operational definitions of spirituality and quality of life significantly affected the magnitude of this relationship (R2 = 0.27). Other potential moderators, such as age, gender, ethnicity, religious affiliation and sampling method were also examined but the findings pertaining to these variables were inclusive due to limitations associated with the sample of primary studies. The implications of this study are mostly theoretical in nature and raise questions about the commonly assumed multidimensional conceptualization of quality of life.

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