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Religion/Spirituality and Adolescent Psychiatric Symptoms: A Review

 This review focused on making sense of the literature with reference to what specific dimensions of religion/spirituality were measured. For each mental health outcome, results of studies using several different variables—church attendance, personal importance, specific beliefs, and denomination—to measure religion/spirituality were compared. Implications of these findings for future research and behavioral health services were considered.

 The aim of the current article is to review the literature on religion and spirituality as it pertains to adolescent psychiatric symptoms. One hundred and fifteen articles were reviewed that examined relationships between religion/spirituality and adolescent substance use, delinquency, depression, suicidality, and anxiety. Ninety-two percent of articles reviewed found at least one significant (p\ .05) relationship between religiousness and better mental health. Evidence for relationships between greater religiousness and less psychopathology was strongest in the area of teenage substance use. Methods of measuring religion/spirituality were highly heterogeneous. Further research on the relationship of religion/spirituality to delinquency, depression, suicidality, and anxiety is warranted. Measurement recommendations, research priorities, and clinical implications are discussed.

 In conclusion the present article reviewed the literature on religion and spirituality as it pertains to five clusters of adolescent psychiatric symptoms: substance use, delinquency, depression, suicidality, and anxiety. One hundred and fifteen articles were reviewed. The vast majority (92%) found at least one significant (p\ .05) relationship between religiousness and better mental health. The level of methodological rigor showed substantial variance but did not appear to systematically bias findings in any particular direction. Evidence for relationships between greater religiousness and less psychopathology is best for the area of teenage substance use, while most lacking in research on anxiety disorders. Measurement of religion/spirituality was heterogeneous. Results suggest that, while a connection between adolescent substance use and religion has been adequately established, further research on the relationship of religion/spirituality to delinquency, depression, suicidality, and anxiety is warranted. Measurement of religiousness/spirituality should be more standardized and multidimensional, future analyses should control for substance use, and mechanisms through which religion may impact mental health should be sought.

Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10578-007-0093-2

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