Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 158–170 | Cite as

What Mediates the Relationship Between Religious Service Attendance and Aspects of Well-Being?

  • Patrick R. SteffenEmail author
  • Kevin S. Masters
  • Scott Baldwin
Original Paper


Religious service attendance predicts increased well-being across a number of studies. It is not clear, however, whether this relationship is due to religious factors such as intrinsic religiosity or due to nonreligious factors such as social support or socially desirable responding. The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between religious service attendance and well-being while simultaneously examining intrinsic religiosity, social support, and socially desirable responding as potential mediators of the relationship. A sample of 855 participants (71 % female, average age 19.5) completed questionnaires assessing religiosity, social support, socially desirable responding, and well-being. Path models were estimated using maximum likelihood estimation to analyze the data. Intrinsic religiosity was the strongest mediator of the relationship between religious service attendance and depressive and anxiety symptoms. This suggests that the mental health benefits of religious service attendance are not simply the result of increased social support or a certain response style on questionnaires; rather, it appears that the relationship is at least partly the result of people trying to live their religion in their daily lives.


Religious service attendance Intrinsic religiosity Mediation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Informed Consent

IRB approval was obtained prior to beginning the study, and all participants read and signed an informed consent form before participating in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrick R. Steffen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Kevin S. Masters
    • 2
  • Scott Baldwin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA

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