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Definitions and Evaluation of Religion and Spirituality Items by Religious Professionals: A Pilot Study


In an effort to clarify the concepts of religion and spirituality religious professionals (Imams, Ministers, Priests, and Rabbis) defined the terms religion and spirituality and responded to whether the concepts religion and spirituality were different (i.e. non-overlapping), the same, or overlapping. Additionally, they rated each item from the five measures (purportedly to assess religion or spirituality) for the extent to which the items assess the construct of religion and/or spirituality. Content analysis of definitions revealed religion as objective, external, and ritual or organizational practices that one performs in a group setting and that guide one’s behavior; while spirituality was defined as internal, subjective, and divine experience or direct relationship with God. Primarily the concepts were viewed as overlapping. Analysis for item ratings revealed few within group differences and relatively few between group differences for ratings of item relevance to assess religion and spirituality. Factor analysis of item ratings revealed one factor named religion/spirituality.

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Correspondence to PAUL J. HANDAL.

Additional information

Corine Hyman, M.S., is a Ph.D. candidate in clinical psychology at Saint Louis University. Her research interests include religion, spirituality, anxiety, and depressive disorders, minority issues, PTSD, and test development.

Paul J. Handal received his Ph.D. degree from Saint Louis University in clinical psychology in 1969. His interests have included education and training of clinical psychologists as director of the clinical program at Saint Louis University from 1973 until 1993. Additional interests include research in the area of psychology and religion and its relationship to adjustment and health in adolescence and adults. Correspondence to Dr. Paul J. Handalm,

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HYMAN, C., HANDAL, P.J. Definitions and Evaluation of Religion and Spirituality Items by Religious Professionals: A Pilot Study. J Relig Health 45, 264–282 (2006).

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  • religion
  • spirituality
  • religious professionals.