Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jon R. Webb

Committee Members

Jameson Hirsch, Eric Sellers


The empirical study of the salutary relationship between spirituality/religiousness and psychological well-being is burgeoning. However, mechanisms of this association have received less empirical attention. Theory suggests that spirituality/religiousness may lead to positive psychological characteristics such as hope, which may function as a means of coping in the context of a significant stressor or stressful situation. The perceived burden and stress associated with caring for individuals with chronic illnesses such as ALS is significant, and caregivers may be at risk for increased symptoms of depression, symptoms of anxiety, somatic symptoms, and other deleterious psychological well-being related outcomes. Within the context of ALS caregiving, spirituality/religiousness may lead to hope and less perceived stress, ultimately contributing to increased caregiver psychological well-being. Cross-sectional mediation-based analyses were conducted on data collected from a sample of 85 ALS caregivers throughout the U.S., The Netherlands, and Belgium. Participants were 78.8% female, 92.9% Caucasian, 48.2%, spent over 100 hours per week caregiving, and the average age was 55.2 years. Ritualistic spirituality was not related to psychological well-being in ALS caregivers in a direct or indirect fashion. Theistic spirituality was directly, positively related to psychological well-being in ALS caregivers. Existential spirituality was directly related to psychological well-being, but in a deleterious fashion. However, when hope and perceived stress were considered as mediators within the model, the effect changed such that existential spirituality contributed salutarily to psychological well-being when operating though hope alone and also in conjunction with perceived stress. This study may be the first of its kind to explicitly model spirituality and psychological well-being in ALS caregivers, thus more research to investigate the caregiving process, barriers, promotion, and means of coping is warranted.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted