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Background/Purpose. Primary brain tumor (PBT) patients risk experiencing death anxiety given the high mortality rate of their diagnosis. In line with Terror Management Theory (TMT), many diagnosed with cancer utilize religion as a method of coping with the disease. However, previous literature on the relation between death anxiety and religion in cancer patients indicates mixed findings of either a negative relationship or no association. To the authors’ knowledge, no study has analyzed these two constructs together in PBT patients. The current study sought to address this gap by investigating the relationship between religiosity and death anxiety in an understudied population.

Methods. Adult PBT patients (N = 56, Mage = 49.38, 51.8% female, 71.4% Caucasian, Mmonths since diagnosis = 55.34) completed measures of religiosity and death anxiety at their routine medical appointment at an academic medical center, including: The God Locus of Health Control Scale (GLHCS), Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI), Death and Dying Distress Scale (DADDS), and the Death Distress Scale (DDS). Descriptives and Pearson correlations were utilized.

Results. The results revealed that while the GLHCS was not significantly related to either measure of death anxiety, the Spiritual Change subscale of the PTGI was positively correlated to both the DADDS (r = .56, p < .001) and the DDS (r = .41, p = .01).

Conclusions and Implications. Results suggest that certain proxies of religiosity may be more closely associated with death anxiety than others. Although there was no evidence in our sample that PBT patient’s God locus of control was related to death anxiety, those who reported higher levels of death anxiety endorsed greater spiritual change (i.e., I have a stronger religious faith). Considering TMT, perhaps feelings of death anxiety prompt one to strengthen their religious beliefs. Future longitudinal analyses addressing the direction and course of these relationships are warranted.

Acknowledgement of Funding:

The current study was funded on behalf of Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

Learning Objective.

Participants will learn about the relationship between religiosity and death anxiety in oncology patients. Further, participants will consider how these findings may or may not differ for PBT patients and across various measures of religiosity.

Publication Date



Clinical Psychology

Is Part Of

VCU Graduate Research Posters

For I Know the Plans I Have for You: God Locus of Control, Spiritual Change, and Death Anxiety in Primary Brain Tumor Patients