Objectives: This study investigates the mobilization of religious coping in women's response to breast cancer. Methods: Ninety-three breast cancer patients and 160 women with a benign diagnosis participated. Breast cancer patients were assessed on their use of religious coping strategies and their level of emotional distress and well-being at pre-diagnosis, 1 week pre-surgery, and 1 month, 6 months, 1 year, and 2 years post-surgery. Results: In general, breast cancer patients used religious strategies more frequently than women with a benign diagnosis; however, the patterns of use were similar across time for the majority of strategies. Results showed that religious coping strategies are mobilized early on in the process of adjustment to breast cancer. Breast cancer patients' use of support or comfort-related strategies peaked around surgery and then declined, while the use of strategies that reflected more a process of meaning-making remained elevated or increased into the long-term. Positive and negative forms of religious coping were predictive of concurrent distress and emotional well-being. As well, there was evidence that the mobilization of religious coping was predictive of changes in distress and well-being across time. For example, women's increased use of active surrender coping from 1 to 6 months post-surgery was related to a concomitant decrease in emotional distress and increase in emotional well-being. Conclusions: Notably the nature of the relationship between religious coping and emotional adjustment depended on the type of religious coping strategy as well as the specific time of assessment. Specificity of information in the use of religious coping can allow health-care professionals to better identify resources and address potential points of difficulty during the process of women's adjustment to breast cancer.
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