Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 65, Issue 1, pp 89–102 | Cite as

Health and Life Satisfaction of Roman Catholic Pastoral Workers: Private Prayer has a Greater Impact than Public Prayer

  • Arndt Büssing
  • Eckhard Frick
  • Christoph Jacobs
  • Klaus Baumann


Studying 7390 Roman Catholic pastoral workers (42 % priests, 13 % deacons, 20 % pastoral assistants, 25 % parish expert workers), we intended to clarify (1) which forms of religious activities were practiced and were thus of importance to them, (2) whether these activities were related to their experience of the transcendent in daily life, and (3) and how these measures were related to their psychosomatic health, stress perception and life satisfaction. We found almost equal levels of the experience of the transcendent in daily life (DSES) and in private prayer, but there were differences, particularly with respect to public prayer forms (e.g., the Eucharist, Liturgy of the Hours). The frequency of spiritual practices showed either no significant or only some marginal associations with psychosomatic health, while DSES showed weak to moderate associations. This perception of transcendence was predicted best by private prayer and life satisfaction.


Perception of the transcendent Prayer Pastoral workers Psychosomatic health Life satisfaction 


  1. Bonelli, R. M., & Koenig, H. G. (2013). Mental disorders, religion and spirituality 1990 to 2010: a systematic evidence-based review. Journal of Religion and Health, 52, 657–673.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Büssing, A., Günther, A., Baumann, K., Frick, E., & Jacobs, C. (2013). Spiritual dryness as a measure of a specific spiritual crisis in Catholic priests: associations with symptoms of burnout and distress. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi: 10.1155/2013/246797.Google Scholar
  3. Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 386–396.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Derogatis, L. R. (2000). BSI 18, brief symptom inventory 18: administration, scoring, and procedures manual. Minneapolis: NCS Pearson.Google Scholar
  5. Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S. (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of Personal Assessment, 49, 71–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Franke, G., Ankerhold, A., Haase, M., Jäger, S., Tögel, C., Ulrich, C., & Frommer, J. (2011). Der Einsatz des Brief Symptom Inventory 18 (BSI-18) bei Psychotherapiepatienten. Psychotherapie Psychosomatik Medizinische Psychologie, 61, 82–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Frick, E., Büssing, A., Baumann, K., Weig, W., & Jacobs, C. (2015). Do self-efficacy expectation and spirituality provide a buffer against stress-associated impairment of health? A comprehensive analysis of the German Pastoral Ministry Study. Journal of Religion and Health. doi: 10.1007/s10943–015–0040–7.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Isacco, A., Sahker, E., Hamilton, D., Mannarino, M. B., Sim, W., & St. Jean, M. (2014). A qualitative study of mental health help-seeking among Catholic priests. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 17, 741–757.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Isacco, A., Sahker, E., Krinock, E., Sim, W., & Hamilton, D. (2015). How religious beliefs and practices influence the psychological health of Catholic priests. American Journal of Men’s Health, 1–13. doi: 10.1177/1557988314567325.
  10. Jors, K., Büssing, A., Hvidt, N. C., & Baumann, K. (2015). Personal prayer in patients dealing with chronic illness: a review of the research literature. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. doi: 10.1155/2015/927973.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  11. Kalkstein, S., & Tower, R. B. (2009). The Daily Spiritual Experiences Scale and well-being: demographic comparisons and scale validation with older Jewish adults and a diverse Internet sample. Journal of Religion and Health, 48, 402–417.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Moreira-Almeida, A., Neto, F. L., & Koenig, H. G. (2006). Religiousness and mental health: a review. Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria, 28(3), 242–250.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Raj, A., & Dean, K. E. (2005). Burnout and depression among Catholic priests in India. Pastoral Psychology, 54, 157–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Rossetti, S. J. (2011). Why priests are happy: a study of the psychological and spiritual health of priests. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press.Google Scholar
  15. Rossetti, S. J., & Rhoades, C. J. (2013). Burnout in Catholic clergy: a predictive model using psychological and spiritual variables. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 5, 335–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Thomas, S. N., & Plante, T. (2015). Psychological well-Being of Roman Catholic and Episcopal clergy applicants. Pastoral Psychology. doi: 10.1007/s11089-015-0655-3.Google Scholar
  17. Turton, D., & Francis, L. (2007). The relationship between attitude toward prayer and professional burnout among Anglican parochial clergy in England: are praying clergy healthier clergy? Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 10, 61–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Underwood, L. G. (2011). The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale: overview and results. Religions, 2, 29–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Underwood, L. G., & Teresi, J. A. (2002). The Daily Spiritual Experience Scale: development, theoretical description, reliability, exploratory factor analysis, and preliminary construct validity using health-related data. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 24, 22–33.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Unterrainer, H. F., Lewis, A. J., & Fink, A. (2014). Religious/spiritual well-being, personality and mental health: a review of results and conceptual issues. Journal of Religion and Health, 53, 382–392.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Weber, S. R., & Pargament, K. I. (2014). The role of religion and spirituality in mental health. Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 27, 358–363.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Zagano, P., & Gillespie, C. K. (2010). Embracing darkness: a theological and psychological case study of Mother Teresa. Spiritus: A Journal of Christian Spirituality, 10, 52–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arndt Büssing
    • 1
  • Eckhard Frick
    • 2
  • Christoph Jacobs
    • 3
  • Klaus Baumann
    • 4
  1. 1.Faculty of Health, Institute for Integrative MedicineWitten/Herdecke UniversityHerdeckeGermany
  2. 2.Munich School of PhilosophyMunichGermany
  3. 3.Faculty of Theology PaderbornPaderbornGermany
  4. 4.Faculty of TheologyAlbert-Ludwigs UniversityFreiburgGermany

Personalised recommendations