Concept of God: The relationship to depression in psychiatric patients

Virginia Theresa Kaiser-Ryan, Fordham University


This study sought to describe the concept of God as envisioned by psychiatric patients, and to determine whether there is a relationship between a patient's concept of God and depressed symptomatology. The sample studied consisted of sixty-five psychiatric patients who were treated for an acute phase of mental illness at a State Mental Hospital, during a six month period in 1989. Demographic data was collected on the variables of age, sex, race, religion, geographic origin of patient and family, history of mental illness, diagnosis, medication, religious education, and attendance at religious services. The study instruments consisted of (1) The Beck Depression Inventory, (2) A modified version of Gorsuch's Adjective Concept of God survey, (3) A structured, open-ended interview; and (4) Drawing. The data indicated a clear correlation between a positive concept of God and lower depression level, and a negative concept of God and higher level of depression. Significant differences in conceptualization of God and level of depressed symptomatology was found in the demographic variables. Recommendations are made for including concept of God in a holistic diagnosis and treatment of the patient, and the need for additional research in this area. Recommendation is made for Social Work education to provide the student with the skills and knowledge to address this area of client life-system.

Subject Area

Mental health|Social work|Theology

Recommended Citation

Kaiser-Ryan, Virginia Theresa, "Concept of God: The relationship to depression in psychiatric patients" (1991). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9132209.