Forgiveness and health among people in outpatient physical therapy

Suncica S. Svalina, Jon R. Webb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Purpose: Forgiveness is associated with a variety of health-related outcomes; however much of this work has been in the context of forgiveness of others, direct associations and otherwise healthy samples. This study examined associations involving multiple dimensions of forgiveness, including indirect effects through health behavior, among outpatients receiving physical therapy. Methods: Participants from southern Appalachia (n=141) completed cross-sectional self-report measures of forgiveness, lifetime religiousness, health behavior, health status and pain. Mediation analysis was employed to examine the direct and indirect relationships between forgiveness and health. Results: Forgiveness of self was associated with: (i) overall health status, physical health status and current pain in an indirect-only fashion and (ii) mental health status and chronic pain in a direct-only fashion. Feeling forgiven by God was associated with health-related social functioning in a direct-only fashion. Forgiveness of others was not associated with the health-related outcomes. Conclusions: Forgiveness of self appears to be the most important to health, yet the most difficult to achieve. Religious culture may influence whether feeling forgiven by God is also important. Forgiveness-based intervention may be useful in the context of rehabilitation, in general, and physical therapy, in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)383-392
Number of pages10
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2012


  • Appalachia
  • Forgiveness
  • Health
  • Physical therapy
  • Spirituality


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