Religious Practice, Beliefs, and Mental Health: Variations across Race and Ethnicity

Michelle Sternthal, University of Michigan
David Williams, Harvard School of Public Health
Marc Musick, University of Texas at Austin
Anna Campbell, University of Central Florida

Research on religion and mental health has uncovered much evidence to suggest that religious practice and belief are beneficial for mental health outcomes. However, these studies are limited by their dependence on similar measures of both mental health and religious experience. Previous research also does not take account of subgroup variations in religious benefits, especially as they apply to Hispanics. Using data from the Chicago Community Adult Health Study (CCAHS), this paper overcomes limitations of previous research by linking a variety of measures of religious practice and belief to multiple mental health outcomes with tests of racial subgroup variations in those relationships. Our findings indicate that religious service attendance is beneficial for mental health but especially so for White respondents. The findings further show that other less commonly examined factors, such as finding meaning in life and forgiveness, are also strong and consistent predictors of mental health.

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Presented in Poster Session 3