Psychology ETDs

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Because ethnic minorities continue to experience health inequities in America, the powerful social forces that help determine our health become all the more relevant to explore. Within this social context, an often overlooked factor is the role that religiosity plays in influencing health. This investigation explored the relationships among religiosity, health, and ethnicity. Primary aims were to specify the change that has occurred over time in religiosity, health, and socio-demographic variables and to determine whether religiosity has a unique influence on health for each ethnic group. The General Social Survey, a large, nationally representative dataset was utilized. Comparisons of correlations (among health, religiosity, and socioeconomic variables) across time revealed that in general, the relationship between religious attendance and health has strengthened, the relationship between education and health has weakened, and the relationships between socioeconomic variables and religiosity have strengthened. Particularly for ethnic minorities, socioeconomic factors have become stronger predictors of religiosity over time. Analyses of covariance of religious attendance and health were conducted separately. Main effects of ethnicity, age, gender and era were highly significant for both dependent variables. For religious attendance, all possible two-way interactions among ethnicity, age, gender, and era were significant as well. For example, ethnic differences in attendance were greater for middle age than for younger adults, were greater for women than for men, and were greater in the recent era than in the previous era. For subjective health, the two-way interactions of ethnicity by age, ethnicity by gender, ethnicity by era, and the three-way interaction of era by ethnicity by age were all significant. Most striking was the greater decline over eras in health of Latinos relative to that of other groups. Finally, the relationship between religiosity and health did not prove to differ significantly across ethnic groups; Although ethnic minorities are strongly religiously committed, the impact of religiosity on health is not stronger/more beneficial for ethnic minorities than for non-Latino Whites. In conclusion, the interplay among religiosity, health, and ethnicity is complex and ever evolving.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Smith, Bruce

Second Committee Member

Verney, Steven




Health--Social aspects, Religiousness--Health aspects, Social status--Health aspects, Economic status--Health aspects.

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