Private religion/spirituality, self-rated health, and mental health among US South Asians

Qual Life Res. 2020 Feb;29(2):495-504. doi: 10.1007/s11136-019-02321-7. Epub 2019 Oct 24.

Abstract

Purpose: Connections between private religion/spirituality and health have not been assessed among US South Asians. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between private religion/spirituality and self-rated and mental health in a community-based sample of US South Asians.

Methods: Data from the Mediators of atherosclerosis in South Asians living in America (MASALA) study (collected 2010-2013 and 2015-2018) and the attendant study on stress, spirituality, and health (n = 881) were analyzed using OLS regression. Self-rated health measured overall self-assessed health. Emotional functioning was measured using the mental health inventory-3 index (MHI-3) and Spielberger scales assessed trait anxiety and trait anger. Private religion/spirituality variables included prayer, yoga, belief in God, gratitude, theistic and non-theistic spiritual experiences, closeness to God, positive and negative religious coping, divine hope, and religious/spiritual struggles.

Results: Yoga, gratitude, non-theistic spiritual experiences, closeness to God, and positive coping were positively associated with self-rated health. Gratitude, non-theistic and theistic spiritual experiences, closeness to God, and positive coping were associated with better emotional functioning; negative coping was associated with poor emotional functioning. Gratitude and non-theistic spiritual experiences were associated with less anxiety; negative coping and religious/spiritual struggles were associated with greater anxiety. Non-theistic spiritual experiences and gratitude were associated with less anger; negative coping and religious/spiritual struggles were associated with greater anger.

Conclusion: Private religion/spirituality is associated with self-rated and mental health. Opportunities may exist for public health and religious care professionals to leverage existing religion/spirituality for well-being among US South Asians.

Keywords: Anger; Anxiety; Depression; Immigrants; Mental health; Religion; Self-rated health; Spirituality; US South Asians.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / psychology*
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Religion
  • Self-Assessment
  • Spirituality*
  • United States