Antecedents of adult wellbeing: Adolescent religiosity and health

  • Martin T
  • Kirkcaldy B
  • Siefen G
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Abstract

An extant of literature has demonstrated an apparent connection between religiosity and physical and psychological health, yet there is a scarcity of studies focussing on the impact of religion on health among children and adolescents. The current study examined associations between self-report data on self-image, physical and psychological health and death-related cognitions in a large representative sample of German high-school students. Almost 1,000 German adolescents (aged 14-18 years) were administered a comprehensive series of questionnaires aimed at assessing anxiety/depression, trait addiction, smoking and drinking behaviour, physical ill-health reports, and self-perception of self-image, parental acceptance and educational attainment. Several statements were incorporated to assess self-injury and suicidal ideation. Just over half of the adolescents (56.9 per cent) did not attend church at all. Level of school influenced church attendance with secondary school adolescents attending least. Religious denomination also exerted a major role on church attendance with Muslims attending most regularly followed by Roman Catholics and then Protestants. Males were more likely to be non-attendees. Regular church attendees tended to adopt more healthy life-styles, they exercised more regularly, smoked less, were more likely to display higher school grades in linguistic – but not mathematical – competency. Conversely, there was some indication that negative affect, reflected by higher scores on the social problems scale was higher among church attenders. Religiosity was scarcely related to suicidal ideation among adolescents.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Churches
  • Health, psychology
  • Mental health
  • Religion
  • Young people

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Authors

  • bruce kirkcaldyInternational Centre for the Study of Occupational and Mental Health

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  • Terence Martin

  • Georg Siefen

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