Religious and Spiritual Struggles as a Mediator of the Link Between Stressful Life Events and Psychological Adjustment in a Nationwide Sample

Julie M. Pomerleau, Kenneth I. Pargament, Neal Krause, Gail Ironson, Peter Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The experience of major life stressors has been robustly linked to greater risk for depression, anxiety, and a decline in well-being. Religious and spiritual (r/s) struggles commonly occur in response to major life stressors and have been associated with greater levels of psychological distress and lower well-being. This pattern of findings suggests that stressful life events may exert their deleterious effects on adjustment, in part, through the r/s struggles they elicit. This study represents the first attempt to test this mediational model in a nationally representative sample of adults in the United States exposed to a wide range of life stressors. In a sample of 2,076 adults from the Landmark Spirituality and Health Survey, this study tested whether r/s struggles partially mediated the effect of stressful life events on psychological adjustment. Results showed support for the proposed partial mediation model. These findings support our theory that in the wake of stressful life events, many people find that their most deeply held values and beliefs are shaken, and these r/s struggles tend to be linked to the distress experienced from stressful life events. Implications for research, practice, and the community are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPsychology of Religion and Spirituality
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Religion
  • Religious/spiritual struggles
  • Spirituality
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Applied Psychology

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