Meaning, “Maker”, and Morality: Spiritual Struggles as Predictors of Distress and Growth in Family Caregivers

  • Serena Wong, M.E. Bowling Green State University
  • Kenneth I. Pargament, Ph.D. Bowling Green State University


Caregiving work may elicit different types of spiritual struggles. The goals of the present cross-sectional study were to examine the frequency and function of six types of spiritual struggle on caregiver wellbeing. We administered an online survey to 173 dementia family caregivers. As hypothesized, struggles of meaning, with the “Maker” (the divine), and with morality were relevant to our sample and functioned differentially. The majority of participants reported experiencing at least some degree of moral (65%) and meaning struggles (62%). Divine and ultimate meaning struggles predicted depressive symptoms after controlling for caregiver religiosity, age, and care receiver’s problem behaviors. Divine and moral struggles uniquely predicted higher levels of caregiver burden. Moral struggles predicted lower levels of personal growth. Furthermore, religious doubt predicted lower levels of depressive symptoms when other types of struggles were controlled. Given their potential for both distress and growth, spiritual struggles are important to address thoroughly in family caregivers who seek psychotherapy. We highlight some forms of spiritually integrated psychotherapy that target specific spiritual struggles relevant to caregivers.
Dec 6, 2019
How to Cite
WONG, Serena; PARGAMENT, Kenneth I.. Meaning, “Maker”, and Morality: Spiritual Struggles as Predictors of Distress and Growth in Family Caregivers. International Journal of Existential Positive Psychology, [S.l.], v. 8, n. 2, p. 17, dec. 2019. ISSN 1708-1696. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 07 mar. 2021.
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