Measuring religious faith in cancer patients: Reliability and construct validity of the Santa Clara Strength of Religious Faith Questionnaire

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Growing attention has focused on associations between religious involvement and health outcomes for cancer patients. Unfortunately, research has been hampered by lack of measures suitable for use in oncology settings. This study examined the performance of one recently developed measure, the Santa Clara Strength of Religious Faith Questionnaire (SCSORF). Initial investigations with cancer patients in a bone marrow transplant program and with non-oncology patients yielded promising results. This study provided additional information about temporal stability and convergent validity. The measure was evaluated in two well-defined samples: (1) 95 breast cancer patients, and (2) 53 healthy young adults. Most of the cancer patients had recent diagnoses and localized or regional disease. In each sample, the instrument demonstrated high test–retest reliability (r's=0.82–0.93) and internal consistency (r's=0.95–0.97). It displayed strong correlations with measures of intrinsic religiosity (r's=0.67–0.82, p<0.0001), and moderate correlations with organizational religiosity (r's=0.61–069, p<0.0001), non-organizational religiosity (r's=0.52–0.55, p<0.0001), comfort from religion (r=0.58, p<0.0001), and ratings of self as religious (r=0.58, p<0.0001). Among cancer patients, scores were significantly associated with optimism (r=0.30, p<0.01), but not with openness of family communication about cancer or perceived social support. These data build on previous findings with cancer patients, and suggest that the SCSORF may be a useful measure of religious faith in oncology settings. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.