Spiritual Struggles and Health: Assessing the Influence of Socioeconomic Status

Neal Krause, Kenneth I. Pargament, Gail Ironson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Growing evidence suggests that spiritual struggles may play a major role in explaining the relationship between religion and health. Even so, there are significant gaps in the literature. More specifically, researchers do not know enough about how spiritual struggles arise in the first place. This study has two major goals. The first is to see whether socioeconomic status is associated with spiritual struggles. The second is to see whether spiritual struggles are associated with physical health. A conceptual model is tested that contains the following core hypotheses: (1) individuals with lower levels of educational attainment are more likely to encounter chronic economic difficulties; (2) people who experience ongoing financial strain are more likely to live in rundown neighborhoods; (3) people who live in dilapidated neighborhoods will be more angry than their well-to-do counterparts; (4) people who are more angry will, in turn, be more likely to experience spiritual struggles; and (5) greater spiritual struggles will be associated with more symptoms of physical illness. Data from a recent nationwide survey (N = 2,146) provide empirical support for each hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)620-636
Number of pages17
JournalJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017


  • health
  • socioeconomic
  • spiritual struggles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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