Spirituality and religious coping in African American youth with depressive illness

Ment Health Relig Cult. 2015;18(5):330-341. doi: 10.1080/13674676.2015.1056120. Epub 2015 Sep 11.


The research team completed a secondary data analysis of primary data from a 2 phase depression treatment engagement behavioral trial to assess African American adolescents reported experiences of spiritual and religious coping when dealing with depression. The team utilized data collected from twenty-eight youth who participated in focus groups or individual interviews. Qualitative data were analyzed using thematic techniques for transcript-based analysis to identify the key patterns and elements of the study participants' accounts and to extract 6 primary themes. The main themes are reported in this manuscript and include; "Religion as Treatment Incentive", "Prayer & Agency", "Mixed Emotions", "Doesn't Hurt, Might Help", "Finding Support in the Church", and "Prayer and Church: Barriers to Treatment?" Overall, the data suggested that religion and spirituality play a key role in African American adolescents' experiences of depression. As well, it is surmised that these factors may be important for improving treatment seeking behaviors and reducing racial mental health disparities in this population of youth.

Keywords: African American youth; Religion; adolescent depression; health disparities; spirituality; treatment engagement.