EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RELIGIOUS SERVICE ATTENDANCE, MENTAL DISORDERS, AND SUICIDALITY AMONG DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUPS: RESULTS FROM A NATIONALLY REPRESENTATIVE SURVEY


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Abstract

BackgroundTo date, sufficient data have not been available to examine ethnic differences in religiosity and mental health in the general population. However, evidence exists to suggest that the protective effects of religion may differ across ethnic groups. This study examined the relationship between religious attendance and mental health across ethnic groups.MethodsThe Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiologic Survey (N= 20,130) is a large, ethnically diverse sample of adult, US respondents. Frequency of attendance at religious services was measured as: at least once per week (reference group), one to three times per month, less than once per month, or less than once per year. Multiple logistic regression analyses examined associations between religious attendance and mood, anxiety and substance use disorders, as well as suicidal ideation and attempts. Models adjusted for sociodemographics and comorbidity.ResultsResults differed when performed within each ethnicity. Infrequent religious attendance was associated with substance use disorders in Whites and Africans only (Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) = 2.30 [95% CI = 1.77–2.99]; AOR = 1.86 [1.25–2.79], respectively), and with anxiety and suicidal ideation in Whites (AOR = 1.44 [1.10–1.88]; AOR = 1.58 [1.24–2.01]) and Hispanics only (AOR = 2.35 [1.17–4.73]; AOR = 1.70 [1.15–2.52]). Asians were the only group in which religious attendance was associated with mood disorders (AOR = 4.90 [1.54–15.60]). Interaction terms were nonsignificant.ConclusionsThe present study suggests that ethnicity is an important variable to consider in the relationship between religiosity and mental health. Future studies should attempt to either adjust for or stratify by ethnicity when examining these relationships.

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