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.