Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 1623–1641 | Cite as

Spirituality in Indian University Students and its Associations with Socioeconomic Status, Religious Background, Social Support, and Mental Health

  • Sibnath DebEmail author
  • Kevin McGirr
  • Jiandong Sun
Original Paper


The present study aimed to understand spirituality and its relationships with socioeconomic status (SES), religious background, social support, and mental health among Indian university students. It was hypothesized that (1) female university students will be more spiritual than male university students, (2) four domains of spirituality will differ significantly across socioeconomic and religious background of the university students in addition to social support, and (3) there will be a positive relationship between spirituality and mental health of university students, irrespective of gender. A group of 475 postgraduate students aged 20–27 years, 241 males and 234 females, from various disciplines of Pondicherry University, India, participated in the study. Students’ background was collected using a structured questionnaire. Overall spirituality and its four dimensions were measured using the Spirituality Attitude Inventory, while mental health status was estimated based on scores of the psychological subscale of the WHO Quality of Life Questionnaire. Female students were significantly more spiritual than male students, particularly in spiritual practice and sense of purpose/connection. Hindu religion and lower family income were associated with lower spirituality. Higher spirituality was associated with congenial family environment and more support from teachers and classmates. There was a strong association between overall spirituality and two spirituality domains (spiritual belief and sense of purpose/connection) with better mental health. Findings suggest an opportunity for open dialogue on spirituality for university students as part of their mental health and support services that fosters a positive mind set and enhancement of resilience.


Spirituality University students Socioeconomic status Mental health 



Authors wish to acknowledge their gratitude to the Head of different departments of Pondicherry University for giving permission for data collection from the students. Authors also thank all the students for their voluntary participation in the study and giving the information. Acknowledgement is also due to Madhavan Mani as well as Srishyama V. for their assistance for data collection.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied PsychologyPondicherry University (A Central University)PuducherryIndia
  2. 2.Department of Nursing, New York City College of TechnologyCity University of New YorkBrooklynUSA
  3. 3.School of Public Health and Social WorkQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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