Current Content
Volume 35, Number 1
January/February 2009

Spirituality in Well and Ill Adolescents and Their Parents:
The Use of Two Assessment Scales

Daniel Rubin
Melissa Dodd
Neelam Desai
Bradley Pollock
John Graham-Pole

The literature supporting a relationship between religion/spirituality and physical/mental health has led to recommendations that health professionals attend to these issues in patient assessment and intervention. Many studies indicate that spiritual issues are important to adolescents, especially those with physical and/or psychological health concerns. Although several instruments have been developed to measure religion/spirituality in adults, no validated instrument currently exists for assessing this concept in children or adolescents. The applicability of two adult scales, the SIBS and the SWBS, were assessed to explore the spiritual well-being of adolescents by comparing spirituality scores of 38 chronically ill and 38 healthy adolescents and their parents. No significant difference was found between ill and well adolescents on either scale. Parents scored significantly higher than adolescents on both scales. Although this could indicate that parents have greater spiritual well-being than their children, these two findings taken together suggest these measures may be insufficiently sensitive measures of spirituality in childhood. This is supported by the finding that most adolescents and their parents felt both scales to be ineffective measures of adolescent spirituality. The authors concluded that a more specific scale should be developed for measuring spirituality in the young, especially those with chronic illness. Such an instrument might best be developed through a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods.