Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 18–24

Religious activity and lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorder

ORIGINAL PAPER

Abstract

Background

There is growing evidence that current religious activity is associated with less psychological distress, yet research on clinical levels of psychopathology along with lifetime patterns of religious activity remains limited.

Method

In this study, we used data on 718 participants from the Providence, RI, cohort of the National Collaborative Perinatal Project, to test for the association between lifetime patterns of religious service attendance frequency, subjective religiosity, and lifetime psychiatric diagnosis.

Results

For women, but not men, a changing pattern of service attendance (having stopped or started attending services since childhood) was associated with increased lifetime rates of generalized anxiety, and marginally increased rates of alcohol abuse/dependence (OR for generalized anxiety: 2.71, 95% CI: 1.11–6.62; OR for alcohol abuse/dependence = 1.97, 95% CI: 0.92–4.20) compared to a stable pattern of continuous religious service attendance. Conversely, men who changed their frequency of religious service attendance were less likely to have ever met diagnostic criteria for major depression (OR = 0.50, 95% CI: 0.31–0.83) as compared to those who had always been religiously active. The rates of psychiatric illness among those who reported never attending religious services were not statistically different from those who either had always been religiously active or those who reported changing patterns of attendance.

Conclusion

These findings suggest that lifetime religious activity patterns are associated with psychiatric illnesses, with different patterns observed for men and women.

Key words

mental health religious activity gender 

References

  1. 1.
    Baets M, Larson DB, et al. (2002) Canadian psychiatric inpatient religious commitment: an association with mental health Can J Psychiat 47(2):159–166Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Buka SL, Satz P, et al. (1998) Defining learning disabilities: the role of longitudinal studies Thalamus 16:14–29Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Dervic K, Oquendo M-A, et al. (2004) Religious affiliation and suicide attempt. Am J Psychiat 161(12):2303–2308PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Dudley R (1999) Youth religious commitment over time: a longitudinal study of retention. Rev Relig Res 41:110–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Eliassen A, Taylor J, et al. (2005) Subjective religiosity and depression in the transition to adulthood J Sci Stud Relig 44(2):187–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Erdman H, Klein M, et al. (1987) A comparison of the diagnostic interview schedule and clinical diagnosis. Am J Psychiat 144:1477–1480PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Exline JJ, Yali AM, et al. (1999) When God disappoints: difficulty forgiving God and its role in negative emotion J Health Psychol 4:365–379Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Gallup GJ, Lindsay DM (1999) Surveying the religious landscape. Trends in U.S. beliefs. Harrisburg, PA, Morehouse PublishingGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    George LK, Ellison C, et al. (2002) Explaining the relationships between religious involvement and health. Psychol Inq 13(3):190–200CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Hackney C, Sanders G (2003) Religiosity and mental health: a meta-analysis of recent studies. J Sci Stud Relig 42(1):43–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Hintikka J, Viinamaki H, et al. (1998) Associations between religious attendance, social support, and depression in psychiatric patients. J Psychol Theol 26(4):351–357Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Hoge D (1988) Why Catholics drop out. In: Bromley D (ed) Falling from the Faith: Causes and Consequences of Religious Apostasy. Sage Publications, Newbury Park, CAGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Kendler KS, Liu X-Q, et al. (2003) Dimensions of religiosity and their relationship to lifetime psychiatric and substance use disorders. Am J Psychiat 160(3):496–503PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kirkpatrick L (1997) A longitudinal study of changes in religious belief and behavior as a function of individual differences in adult attachment style. J Sci Stud Relig 36(2):207–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Kirkpatrick L (1998) God as a substitute attachment figure: a longitudinal study of adult attachment style and religious change in college students. Pers Soc Psychol B 24(9):961–973CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Koenig HG (1999) Religion and medicine. Lancet 353(9166):1804CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Koenig HG, Ford SM, et al. (1993) Religion and anxiety disorder—an examination and comparison of associations in young, middle-aged, and elderly adults. J Anxiety Disord 7(4):321–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Koenig HG, George LK, et al. (1994) Religious affiliation and psychiatric-disorder among protestant baby boomers. Hosp Community Psych 45(6):586–596Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Koenig HG, Hays JC, et al. (1997) Modeling the cross-sectional relationships between religion, physical health, social support, and depressive symptoms. Am J Geriat Psychiat 5(2):131–144Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Koenig HG, McGue M, et al. (2005) Genetic and environmental influences on religiousness: findings for retrospective and current religiousness ratings. J Pers 73(2):471–488PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Koenig H, Pargament KL, et al. (1998) Religious coping and health status in medically ill hospitalized older adults. J Nerv Ment Dis 186(9):513–521PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Krause N, Ellison CG, et al. (1998) Church-based emotional support, negative interaction, and psychological well-being: findings from a national sample of Presbyterians. J Sci Stud Relig 37(4):725–741CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Maselko J, Kubzansky L (2006) Gender differences in religious practices, spiritual experiences and health: results from the General Social Survey. Soc Sci Med 62:2848–2860PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    McCullough ME, Hoyt WT, et al. (2000) Religious involvement and mortality: a meta-analytic review. Health Psychol: Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psycological Association 19(3):211–222Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Mirola W (1999) A refuge for some: gender differences in the relationship between religious involvement and depression. Sociol Relig 60(4):419–437CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Myrianthopoulos NC, French KS (1968) Application of United States Bureau-of-Census Socioeconomic Index to a large, diversified patient population. Soc Sci Med 2(3):283–299PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Niswander K, Gordon M (1972) The women and their pregnancies: the collaborative perinatal study of the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke. National Institute of Health, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Oman D, Reed D (1998) Religion and mortality among the community-dwelling elderly. Am J Public Health 88(10):1469–1475PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Pargament KL, Smith B, et al. (1998) Patterns of positive and negative religious coping with major life stressors. J Sci Stud Relig 18:412–419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Pargament KL, Zinnbauer B, et al. (1998) Red flags and religious coping: identifying some religious warning signs among peple in crisit. J Clin Psychol 54:77–89PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Regnerus MD, Elder G (2003) Religion and vulnerability among low-risk adolescents. Soc Sci Res 32(4):633–658CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Robins L, Helzer J, et al. (1981) National Institute of Mental Health Diagnostic Interview Schedule, Version III. National Institute of Mental Health, Rockville, MDGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ross C (1990) Religion and psychological distress. J Sci Stud Relig 29(2):236–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Seybold K, Hill P (2001) The role of religion and spirituality in mental and physical health. Curr Dir Psychol Sci 10:21–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Smith TB, McCullough ME, et al. (2003) Religiousness and depression: evidence for a main effect and the moderating influence of stressful life events. Psychol Bull 129(4):614–636PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Smith B, Pargament KL, et al. (2000) Noah revisited: religious coping by church members and the impact of the 1993 Midwest flood. J Community Psychol 28:169–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Strawbridge WJ, Cohen RD, et al. (1997) Frequent attendance at religious services and mortality over 28 years. Am J Public Health 87:957–961PubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Strawbridge WJ, Shema SJ, et al. (2001) Religious attendance increases survival by improving and maintaining good health behaviors, mental health, and social relationships. Ann Behav Med 23(1):68–74PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Thoresen CE, Harris AHS (2002) Spirituality and health: what’s the evidence and what’s next. Ann Behav Med 24(1):3–13PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Yangarber-Hicks N (2004) Religious coping styles and recovery from serious mental illnesses. J Psychol Theol 32(4):305–317Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Zinnbauer B, Pargament KL (1998) Spiritual conversion: a study of religious change among college students. J Sci Stud Relig 37(1):161–180CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of Public Health, College of Health ProfessionsTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Dept. of EpidemiologyHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA

Personalised recommendations