All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Magdalena Szaflarski

Advisory Committee Members

Shawn Bauldry

Henna Budhwani

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2015

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Previous research largely (but not conclusively) suggests that religious participation is positively correlated with good mental health, but it is unclear what effect religion has on mental health outcomes of racial/ethnic and religious minorities. Prior findings that non-Christian (e.g. Muslim, Buddhist, etc.) migrants have lower levels of religious participation than Christian migrants suggest that there may be a disparity in mental health outcomes between religious groups. This study aims to fill the gap by comparing mental health outcomes (measured by four DSM-IV-based diagnoses) of Christian immigrants with non-Christian immigrants. The study uses data from the National Latino and Asian American Study (NLAAS), a cross-sectional study conducted between May 2002 and November 2003. Mental health is measured using Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV)-based diagnoses for four psychiatric conditions including any depressive disorder (dysthymia, major depressive episode), any anxiety disorder (agoraphobia, social phobia, generalized anxiety, intermittent explosive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder), any addictive substance abuse (alcohol dependence, alcohol abuse, drug dependence, drug abuse), and any disorder. Independent variables include religious affiliation (assessed by religious preference coded as "Christian", "non-Christian" or "none") and religious participation (measured by frequency of religious service attendance). I examine the following hypotheses: (1) non-Christian immigrants will have higher rates of negative mental health outcomes than Christian immigrants, (2) as immigrant religious participation increases, odds of negative mental health outcomes will decrease, and (3) religious participation mediates the negative association between non-Christian religious affiliation and mental health outcomes. Weighted logistic regression models were estimated to test the hypothesis. Results suggest that religious affiliation does not significantly influence mental health outcomes. However, increased religious participation does decrease the odds of substance abuse for both Asian and Latino Americans. Research implications, limitations of the study, and future directions are discussed in light of the theoretical and contextual background.

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