Religious Service Attendance and Distress: The Moderating Role of Stressful Life Events and Race/Ethnicity

Publication Title

Sociology of Religion

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Document Type



church attendance, stress (psychology), race, ethnicity, religiousness, mental health, religious aspects, psychological aspects, religious aspects


Psychology | Sociology of Religion


Research findings on religiosity and mental health have been somewhat inconsistent over the years, leading researchers to examine different dimensions of religiosity to determine their individual and combined impacts on mental health. Aside from varying operationalizations of religiosity, stressful life events and race/ethnicity may be important moderators of the impact of religiosity on mental health. Secondary data analyses on a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults reveal a curvilinear relation of religious service attendance on distress. Specifically, those reporting moderate levels of service attendance also report lower levels of distress than their counterparts. Moreover, there were racial/ethnic differences with Hispanics and African Americans showing a stronger relationship between attendance and distress than non-Hispanic whites. However, there was no evidence that stressful life events interacted with attendance to explain distress.