Introduction/Theoretical Background: The concept of religious/spiritual well-being was developed via an interdisciplinary approach combining pastoral theology, pastoral psychology and clinical psychology. In the context of Antonovsky’s model of salutogenesis, one of the main aims of this research project concerning the role of religiosity/spirituality in the processes of health and disease was the construction of a multidimensional questionnaire to measure religious/spiritual well-being based on a new theoretical concept. The concept was developed taking into account the results of recent literature in the field of the empirical psychology of religion, the personal experience of various professionals working in hospitals and the views of experts in the field. The original theoretical model was built on the some primary basic assumptions; i.e., two distinct levels of perception exist, the immanent and the transcendent, which are further expressed in five different dimensions: “hope”, “forgiveness”, “rituals and symbols”, “experiences of sense and meaning”, “acceptance of death and dying”. In other words, this new model involves an extension of the bio-psycho-social model to include a religious-spiritual dimension.
Method: Items for each of these five dimensions were constructed. In the first part the inventory was tested using a sample of 200 students and in a second part the inventory was validated using a sample from the general Austrian population (N=263). In a third step the questionnaire was given to different patient groups (N=241); 60 addiction patients were compared to 100 general medical inpatients and 81 breast cancer patients. For the first two parts, factor and item analysis procedures were used in test construction. For part three analysis of variance (GLM multivariate), correlation and regression analysis were conducted to evaluate the data.
Results & Discussion: It was possible to confirm the basic assumptions of the theoretical model with empirical data – this initial work resulted in a temporary final version of the Multidimensional Inventory of Religious/Spiritual Well-Being. The MI-RSWB 48 showed promise as a useful multidimensional alternative to other concepts for measure spiritual well-being. The main hypotheses concerning the positive relationship between religiosity/spirituality and mental health were also confirmed as well as the postulated positive relationship with adequate coping strategies. Addiction patients showed a lower amount of religious/spiritual well-being in combination with lower scores in other parameters of psychological well-being when compared to general medical patient groups and healthy controls.