Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 58, Issue 5, pp 1847–1856 | Cite as

The Relationship Between Religiosity and Anxiety: A Meta-analysis

  • Ahmed M. Abdel-Khalek
  • Laura Nuño
  • Juana Gómez-Benito
  • David LesterEmail author
Original Paper


Several research studies from the USA and Western industrialized countries have reported a negative association between religiosity and anxiety. However, Arabic studies using mainly Muslim samples are limited. The objective of the present study was to apply meta-analysis statistical techniques to 10 Arabic studies of this association. All of the respondents were Arab citizens, ranging in age between 14 and 43 years, and the vast majority of them were Muslims. Religiosity and anxiety were assessed with seven different scales. In all of the studies, the administration of the scales was in small group sessions and in the Arabic language. Pearson correlation coefficients were calculated between the religiosity and anxiety scale scores. All the correlations were negative. All but one were statistically significant, ranging from − 0.16 to − 0.43. The mean effect size was − 0.22, and the impact of age and gender on the correlation was not significant. This result suggests that religiosity may affect anxiety by providing buffering and coping mechanisms.


Religiosity Anxiety Meta-analysis College students Arabs 



  1. Abdel-Khalek, A. M. (1989). The development and validation of an Arabic form of the STAI: Egyptian results. Personality and Individual Differences, 10, 277–285.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abdel-Khalek, A. M. (2000). The Kuwait University Anxiety Scale: Psychometric properties. Psychological Reports, 87, 478–492.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Abdel-Khalek, A. M. (2002). Age and sex differences for anxiety in relation to family size, birth order, and religiosity among Kuwaiti adolescents. Psychological Reports, 90, 1031–1036.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Abdel-Khalek, A. M. (2007a). Assessment of intrinsic religiosity with a single item measure in a sample of Arab Muslims. Journal of Muslim Mental Health, 2, 211–215.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Abdel-Khalek, A. M. (2007b). Religiosity, happiness, health and psychopathology in a probability sample of Muslim adolescents. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 10, 571–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Abdel-Khalek, A. M. (2011). Religiosity, subjective well-being, self-esteem and anxiety among Kuwaiti Muslim adolescents. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 14, 129–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Abdel-Khalek, A. M. (2013). Personality dimensions and religiosity among Arab Muslim college students. Personality and Individual Differences, 54, 149–152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Abdel-Khalek, A. M. (2017). The construction and validation of the Arabic Scale of intrinsic religiosity (ASIR). Psychology & Behavioral Science, 4(4), #555644.Google Scholar
  9. Abdel-Khalek, A. M., & Lester, D. (2003). The Kuwait University Anxiety Scale: A cross-cultural evaluation in Kuwait and United States. Psychological Reports, 9, 1109–1114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Abdel-Khalek, A. M., & Lester, D. (2007). Religiosity, health, and psychopathology in two cultures: Kuwait and USA. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 10, 537–550.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Abdel-Khalek, A. M., & Lester, D. (2012). Constructions of religiosity, subjective well-being, anxiety and depression in two cultures: Kuwait and USA. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 58, 138–145.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Abdel-Khalek, A. M., & Maltby, J. (2009). Differences in anxiety scores of college students from Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom and the US. Psychological Reports, 104, 624–626.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Abdel-Khalek, A. M., & Murad, S. (2001). Predictor of the self-rating scale of mental health. Derasat Nafsiyah (Psychological Studies), 11, 623–635. (in Arabic).Google Scholar
  14. Abdel-Khalek, A. M., & Naceur, F. (2007). Religiosity and its association with positive and negative emotions among college students from Algeria. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 10, 159–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Abdel-Khalek, A. M., & Thorson, J. A. (2006). Religiosity and death anxiety in American and Egyptian college students. In M. V. Landow (Ed.), College students: Mental health and coping strategies (pp. 167–185). New York: Nova Science.Google Scholar
  16. Abdel-Khalek, A. M., Tomás-Sábado, J., & Gomez-Benito, J. (2004). Psychometric parameters of the Spanish version of the Kuwait University Anxiety Scale (S-KUAS). European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 20, 349–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Abou El Azayem, G., & Hedayat-Diba, Z. (1994). The psychological aspects of Islam. International Journal of the Psychology of Religion, 4, 41–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Allport, G. W., & Ross, J. M. (1967). Personal religious orientation and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 432–443.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Argyle, M. (2000). Psychology of religion: An introduction. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Baker, M., & Gorsuch, R. (1982). Trait anxiety and intrinsic-extrinsic religiousness. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 21, 119–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Baroun, K. A. (2006). Relations among religiosity, health, happiness, and anxiety for Kuwaiti adolescents. Psychological Reports, 99, 717–722.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Cook, C. (2015). Religious psychopathology: The prevalence of religious content of delusions and hallucinations in mental disorders. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 61, 404–425.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Davis, T. L., Kerr, B. A., & Kurpius, S. E. (2003). Meaning, purpose, and religiosity in at-risk youth: The relationship between anxiety and spirituality. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 31, 356–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. El-Jamil, F. M. (2003). Shame, guilt, and mental health: A study on the impact of cultural and religious orientation. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences and Engineering, 64, 1487.Google Scholar
  25. Emmons, R. A., & Paloutzian, R. F. (2003). The psychology of religion. Annual Review of Psychology, 54, 377–402.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Francis, L. J., & Jackson, C. J. (2003). Eysenck’s dimensional model of personality and religion: Are religious people more neurotic? Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 6, 87–100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Francis, L. J., & Stubbs, M. T. (1987). Measuring attitudes towards Christianity: From childhood to adulthood. Personality and Individual Differences, 8, 741–743.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Freud, S. (1953). The future of an illusion. New York: Liveright.Google Scholar
  29. Galton, F. (1872). Statistical inquiries into the efficacy of prayer. Fortnightly Review, 12, 125–135.Google Scholar
  30. Goldberg, D. P., & Williams, P. (1991). A user’s guide to the General Health Questionnaire. London: NFER.Google Scholar
  31. Gorsuch, R. L. (1988). Psychology of religion. Annual Review of Psychology, 39, 201–221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Hackney, C. H., & Sanders, G. S. (2003). Religiosity and mental health: A meta analysis of recent studies. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 42, 43–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hall, G. S. (1882). The moral and religious training of children. The Princeton Review, 9, 26–48.Google Scholar
  34. Harris, J. I., Schoneman, S. W., & Carrera, S. (2002). Approaches to religiosity related to anxiety among college students. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 5, 253–265.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hasan, H. (1999). A standardization of the General Health Questionnaire in the State of Kuwait. Journal of the Social Sciences, 27(2), 113–139. (in Arabic).Google Scholar
  36. Higgins, J. P. T., & Thompson, S. G. (2002). Quantifying heterogeneity in a meta-analysis. Statistics in Medicine, 21(11), 1539–1558.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Hoge, D. R. (1972). A validated intrinsic religious motivation scale. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 11, 369–376.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. James, W. (1902). The varieties of religious experience: A study on human nature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jansen, K. L., Motley, R., & Hovey, J. (2010). Anxiety, depression and students’ religiosity. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 13, 267–271.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Kendler, K. S., Gardner, C. O., & Prescott, C. A. (1997). Religion, psychopathology and substance abuse. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 322–329.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  41. King, M., & Schafer, W. E. (1992). Religiosity and perceived stress: A community survey. Sociological Analysis, 53, 37–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Koenig, H. G., Ford, S., George, L. K., Blazer, D. G., & Meador, K. G. (1993). Religion and anxiety disorder: An examination and comparison of associations in young, middle-aged and elderly adults. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 7, 321–342.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Koenig, H. G., King, D. E., & Carson, V. B. (2012). Handbook of religion and health (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  44. Kritchmann, M., & Strous, R. D. (2011). Religiosity, anxiety and depression among Israeli medical students. Israel Medical Association Journal, 13, 613–618.Google Scholar
  45. Lavric, M., & Flere, S. (2010). Trait anxiety and measures of religiosity in four cultural settings. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 13, 667–682.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Leonardi, A., & Gialamas, V. (2009). Religiosity and psychological well- being. International Journal of Psychology, 44, 241–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Loewenthal, K. M. (1995). Mental health and religion. London: Chapman & Hall.Google Scholar
  48. Loewenthal, K. M. (2000). The psychology of religion: A short introduction. Oxford: Oneworld.Google Scholar
  49. Mattis, J. S. (2002). Religiosity and spirituality in the meaning-making and coping experiences of African American women: A qualitative analysis. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 26, 309–321.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Pargament, K. I. (1997). The psychology of religion and coping: Theory, research, practice. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  51. Pfeifer, S., & Waelty, U. (1999). Anxiety, depression, and religiosity—A controlled clinical study. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 2, 35–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Quraishi, M. T. (Ed.). (1984). Islam: A way of life and a movement. Indianapolis, IN: American Trust.Google Scholar
  53. R Development Core Team. (2011). R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna, Austria: The R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Accessed 13 June 2017.
  54. Seybold, K. S., & Hill, P. C. (2001). The role of religion and spirituality in mental and physical health. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 10, 21–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Snoep, L. (2008). Religiousness and happiness in three nations: A research note. Journal of Happiness Studies, 9, 207–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Spellman, C. M., Baskett, G. D., & Byrne, D. (1971). Manifest anxiety as a contributing factor in religious conversion. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 36, 245–247.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. Spielberger, C. D., Gorsuch, R. L., Lushene, R., Vagg, P. R., & Jacobs, G. A. (1983). Manual for the state-trait anxiety inventory form Y. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists.Google Scholar
  58. Spilka, B., Hood, R. W., Jr., Hunsberger, B., & Gorsuch, R. (2003). The psychology of religion: An empirical approach (3rd ed.). New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  59. Starbuck, E. (1899). Psychology of religion. London: Walter Scott.Google Scholar
  60. Storch, E. A., Storch, J. B., & Adams, B. G. (2002). Intrinsic religiosity and social anxiety of intercollegiate athletes. Psychological Reports, 91, 1041–1042.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. Sturgeon, R. S., & Hamley, R. W. (1979). Religiosity and anxiety. Journal of Social Psychology, 108, 137–138.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. Tay, L., Li, M., Myers, D., & Diener, E. (2014). Religiosity and subjective well-being: An international perspective. In C. Kim-Prieto (Ed.), Religion and spirituality across cultures (pp. 163–175). Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
  63. Thorson, J. A., Powell, F. C., Abdel-Khalek, A. M., & Beshai, J. A. (1997). Constructions of religiosity and death anxiety in two cultures: The United States and Kuwait. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 25, 374–383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Trappler, B., & Endicott, J. (1997). Religion and psychopathology. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 1636.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  65. Viechtbauer, W. (2010). Conducting meta-analyses in R with the metafor package. Journal of Statistical Software, 36(3), 1–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wilde, A., & Joseph, S. (1997). Religiosity and personality in a Muslim context. Personality and Individual Differences, 23, 899–900.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Wilson, P. F. (1976). Religious orientation and anxiety. Unpublished Master’s Thesis, Middle Tennessee State University.Google Scholar
  68. Wulff, D. M. (1997). Psychology of religion: Classic and contemporary (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  69. Zohra, N. I., & Irshad, E. (2012). Religiosity and anxiety disorder in Peshawar. FWU Journal of Social Sciences, 6(1), 57.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ArtsUniversity of AlexandriaEl-Shatby, AlexandriaEgypt
  2. 2.Clinical Institute of Neuroscience (ICN)Hospital ClinicBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Department of Behavioral Sciences Methods, Faculty of PsychologyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior (IR3C)University of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain
  5. 5.Stockton UniversityGallowayUSA

Personalised recommendations