Tiffany Ipes, undergraduate social work major, explored the connection between healing and religion in her research poster entitled “The Use of Spirituality/Religion in Coping with Chronic Illness.”
“The goal of my research was to lend awareness to health care workers that there should be diverse spiritual resources involved in service delivery and treatment plans, especially for non-Christians,” said Ipes.
Ipes gave questionnaires to participants while working as an intern for the Chattanooga Hamilton County Health Department’s Adult Health and Renal Intervention Project. The program provides home visits to people at risk for developing end stage renal disease due to diabetes and/or hypertension.
Several studies have been conducted on the topic, especially by Duke University. Ipes said her findings were similar to theirs. Most hospitals and health care facilities have maybe one chaplain, who usually ministers from the perspective of a specific Christian denomination.
“What are people with non-Christian spiritual needs to do for spiritual support while coping with physical illness?” said Ipes.
Another goal of the study was to investigate the social support that is often gained through spiritual communities like churches, temples or synagogues and how that support is used to cope with physical illness, especially in older adults.
“This study taught me that spirituality and social support helps many older adults in the area cope with physical illness. By listening to participants’ life experiences and their incredible walk of faith, my faith was strengthened as well,” said Ipes.
Senior BSW students are expected to complete an independent research project based in their field agency where they complete their senior internship. Each student works closely with their field instructor to identify an area for research.
“The capstone event for this intensive research process is the Social Work Research Showcase Event. All seniors present their research project and findings to an audience of sophomore and junior social work majors, faculty, and community partners,” said Dr. Valerie Radu, LCSW and social work department head.