It is out of my hands: How deferring control to God can decrease quality of life for breast cancer patients

Bryan McLaughlin, Woohyun Yoo, Jonathan D'Angelo, Stephanie Jean TSANG, Bret Shaw, Dhavan Shah, Timothy Baker, David Gustafson

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


This paper seeks to contribute to the understanding of how and why religion affects psychosocial health outcomes. We propose a theoretical model predicting that when women with breast cancer defer control to God they will experience fewer breast cancer related concerns. Deferring control to God, however, should also reduce the likelihood that they take a proactive coping approach, which will be exacerbated by lowered breast cancer concerns. We therefore predict that this passive coping style will ultimately result in lower levels of quality of life.

Data were collected as part of a randomized clinical trial funded by the National Cancer Institute. A total of 192 women with breast cancer participated in a computer-mediated social support group. Deferring control to God statements were captured by using computer-aided content analysis of discussion posts. Psychosocial outcomes were measured using longitudinal survey data. Analysis was performed using structural equation modeling.

The results of our analysis largely confirm our mediation model for which we find significant model fit. As predicted, deferring control to God leads to lower levels of breast cancer concerns but also to more passive coping styles. Ultimately, deferring control to God can lead to lower levels of quality of life.

Our study demonstrates how and why religious coping can lead to both positive and negative psychosocial health outcomes. Health care practitioners should encourage patients who are relying on religion to keep their end of the bargain and maintain an active coping style. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2747-2754
Number of pages8
Issue number12
Early online date4 Aug 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


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