Review of Religious Research

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 469–497 | Cite as

The Effect of Religion-Supported Programs on Health-Related Behaviors in Adolescence

  • Amy AdamczykEmail author
  • Jacob Felson
Original Paper


Much research has found a relationship between religion and teens’ health related behaviors. The majority of this research focuses on personal religious beliefs and behaviors. But, many religious organizations also sponsor nonreligious activities. There is reason to think that nonreligious programs sponsored by religious organizations will be more likely than school and community-based extracurricular programs to be associated with healthier behaviors, even for youth who are not personally religious. The current study compares the influence of involvement in nonreligious activities that are supported by religious and other organizations for teen health outcomes. Using two waves of longitudinal data from the National Study of Youth and Religion the current study finds that involvement in religion-supported programs is associated with feelings of well-being, better physical health, less alcohol use, and delayed initiation into first sex. Conversely, involvement in activities sponsored by nonreligious organizations is associated with more alcohol use and initiation into sex.


Adolescents Health Religion-supported secular activities Extracurricular activities Sports Sex Alcohol 



This study was supported with a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Religious Research Association, Inc. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.William Paterson UniversityWayneUSA

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