Psychological distress may hinder recovery following surgery. Studies examining the relationship between psychological distress and religiosity in the acute post-operative setting are lacking. The present study investigated this relationship, evaluated protocol design, and explored coping mechanisms. Psychological distress of surgical inpatients was assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) and Rotterdam Symptom Checklist (RSCL). Religiosity was assessed using the Santa Clara Strength of Religious Faith Questionnaire. Correlations were obtained using Minitab software. Qualitative analysis identified coping mechanisms. Of eligible inpatients, 13/54 were recruited. No significant correlation was found between religiosity and psychological distress. The RSCL had a strong correlation with HADS (R = 0.82, p = 0.001). Assessment of distress was >2 min faster using RSCL compared to HADS. Relationships with pets, friends or family, and God emerged as the most common coping mechanism. Given study limitations, no conclusion was drawn regarding the relationship between religiosity and psychological distress. Weaknesses in study protocol were identified, and recommendations were outlined to facilitate the definitive study. This includes use of RSCL instead of HADS. Further study is warranted to explore how to strengthen relationships for inpatients.
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