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International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 63, Issue 3, pp 387–395 | Cite as

Spirituality as a protective health asset for young people: an international comparative analysis from three countries

  • Fiona Brooks
  • Valerie Michaelson
  • Nathan King
  • Jo Inchley
  • William Pickett
Original Article

Abstract

Objectives

Spirituality has been proposed as a potential health asset a ‘developmental engine’ that works by fostering the search for connectedness, meaning and purpose. The aim is to examine to what extent spiritual health might be protective of young people’s overall health and well-being.

Methods

In 2014, young people aged 11, 13, and 15 years in England, Scotland and Canada were surveyed as part of the HBSC study (n = 26,701). The perceived importance of spiritual health and domains (connections with self, others, nature, and the transcendent) was measured in these countries. Multi-level log-binomial models were used to explore relationships between spiritual health and three self-reported positive health outcomes: general health status, subjective life satisfaction and health complaints.

Results

Higher levels of perceptions of the importance of spiritual health, both overall and within the four domains, were associated with higher likelihoods of reporting each of the positive health outcomes.

Conclusions

Spiritual health appears to operate as a protective health asset during adolescence and is significantly shaped by external relationships and connections.

Keywords

Adolescent Young people Gender Nature Spiritual health Spirituality 

Notes

Funding

The three countries involved in this analysis were funded by (1) The Department of Health, England. (2) The Public Health Agency of Canada and the Canadian Institute of Health Research (operating Grant MOP341188). (3) NHS Health Scotland.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethics approval

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments. All questionnaires were anonymous. Approval was gained from the following ethics review boards: Queen′s University (Canada), the University of Hertfordshire (England), and St Andrews University (Scotland). Student participation was voluntary, and consent (explicit or implicit) was sought from school administrators, parents, and participating students as per national human subject requirements.

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Copyright information

© Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of HealthUniversity of Technology (UTS)SydneyAustralia
  2. 2.CRIPACC, University of HertfordshireHatfieldUK
  3. 3.School of Religion, Queen′s UniversityKingstonCanada
  4. 4.Department of Public Health SciencesQueen′s UniversityKingstonCanada
  5. 5.Child and Adolescent Health Research Unit, University of St Andrews St AndrewsUK

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