Robust Links Between Religious/Spiritual Struggles, Psychological Distress, and Well-Being in a National Sample of American Adults

Hisham Abu-Raiya, Kenneth I. Pargament, Neal Krause, Gail Ironson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

53 Scopus citations


This study is one of the first attempts to examine the relationships between religious and spiritual struggles (r/s struggles) measured comprehensively and indicators of psychological distress (i.e., depressive symptoms, generalized anxiety) and well-being (i.e., satisfaction with life, happiness) using a nationally representative sample of American adults (N = 2,208) dealing with a wide range of major life stressors. In addition, it examines the key question of whether these relationships persist after controlling for potentially confounding psychosocial/religious influences. Correlational analyses revealed that all 5 types of the r/s struggles assessed (i.e., divine, demonic, interpersonal, moral, ultimate-meaning) correlated significantly positively with both depressive symptoms and generalized anxiety, and significantly negatively with both satisfaction with life and happiness. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that even after controlling for the effects of demographics and other potentially confounding variables (i.e., neuroticism, social isolation, religious commitment) the r/s struggle subscales added unique variance to the prediction of all 4 criterion measures. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are offered, and the limitations of the study are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
StateAccepted/In press - Aug 24 2015



  • Mental health
  • Religious/spiritual struggles
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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