Can Use of Positive Religious Coping Predict Greater Distress? An Examination of Army Soldiers on Deployment

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Although positive religious coping is generally viewed as an adaptive, functional coping pattern, some studies have actually found positive religious coping to be associated with more distress in military populations. In the current study, we examined the role of positive religious coping on distress across 2 time points. Participants in this study were 192 Army soldiers (men = 90.4%) who were stationed in Iraq for a 1-year deployment in 2005. Using structural equation modeling, we conducted a cross-lag analysis of positive religious coping and distress. Results indicated that greater use of positive religious coping significantly predicted greater distress 1 month later, whereas distress at T1 did not predict positive religious coping 1 month later. Combat exposure was also a significant predictor of distress 1 month later. Implications of these results include the need to inquire about clients’ use of religious coping and whether such coping methods are having the desired effect for them.

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