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With a little help from my (Canadian) friends: Health differences between minimal and maximal religiosity/spirituality are partially mediated by social support

TitleWith a little help from my (Canadian) friends: Health differences between minimal and maximal religiosity/spirituality are partially mediated by social support
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsSpeed, D., Barry C., and Cragun R.
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume265
Date Published11
ISSN18735347
Keywordsalcohol abuse, canadian community health survey, mediation, mental illness, mental wellness, religion/spirituality, social support, substance abuse
Abstract

Rationale: Higher levels of religion and spirituality (R/S) are associated with better health in both Canadian and American samples. One mechanism that can account forthis relationship is social support, which is positively associated with higher R/S and is positively associated with overall wellness. Although social support has been found to mediate the relationship between R/S and health in American samples, parallel research on Canadian samples is lacking. Objective: While having cultural similarities, Canada and the United States have noteworthy differences with respect to religion, politics, and demographics. Consequently, it is problematic to assume that social support accounts for the R/Shealth relationship for Canadians. The goal of the current study was to explore whether social support mediated the relationship between R/S and health outcomes. Method: Using individuals =>20 years of age from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health component (N => 9043), we isolated people who had either the lowest or highest possible score on a composite measure of R/S. We then compared ‘minimal R/S’ respondents to ‘maximal R/S’ respondents on 11 health outcomes and investigated if these health disparities attenuated when accounting for differences in social support. Results: Maximal R/S was associated with better health for nine of the tested outcomes, but seven of these relationships were attenuated when social support was added to the model. The two remaining outcomes, drug abuse/dependence and alcohol abuse/dependence, were not significantly impacted by the inclusion of social support. Conclusion: Social support plays a mediating role in many R/S-health relationships for Canadians. Although R/S appears to have a statistical relationship with many health outcomes, several of these lack practical significance.

URLhttps://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0277953620306067
DOI10.1016/j.socscimed.2020.113387