Original Paper

Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 19, Issue 3, pp 343-359

First online:

The Adolescent Religious Coping Scale: Development, Validation, and Cross-Validation

  • Jeffrey P. BjorckAffiliated withGraduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary Email author 
  • , Robert W. BraeseAffiliated withUniversity of Oklahoma Health Science Center
  • , Joseph T. TadieAffiliated withGraduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary
  • , David D. GilillandAffiliated withGraduate School of Psychology, Fuller Theological Seminary

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Research literature on adolescent coping is growing, but typically such studies have ignored religious coping strategies and their potential impact on functioning. To address this lack, we developed the Adolescent Religious Coping Scale and used its seven subscales to examine the relationship between religious coping and emotional functioning. A cross-sectional research design was used with both a validation sample of Christian school students (Sample 1, N = 500, ages 12–19) and a cross-validation sample of Christian youth group attenders (Sample 2, N = 62, ages 11–18). Emotional functioning was assessed positively (life satisfaction) and negatively (hopelessness). Factor analyses supported factorial validity, and alpha levels supported reliability of the seven religious coping subscales (Positive God-Focused Coping, Seeking Religious Support, Constructive Distraction, Questioning, Avoidance, Denial, and Deferring). For both samples, religious coping was significantly related (unique variance) to religious support, parental support, and emotional functioning, respectively. In general, positive religious coping strategies were related to more support and better functioning, whereas the reverse was true for negative religious coping strategies. Moreover, many of these results were maintained even after controlling for variance due to age, gender, and religious attendance. As such, clinicians working with religious adolescents should consider encouraging these teens to optimize use of positive religious coping strategies and minimize reliance on negative ones as part of a holistic approach to handling stress. Religious coping findings are discussed regarding their comparison to general adolescent coping and with respect to future research directions.


Adolescent Coping Religious coping Religiousness Emotional functioning