Religious Involvement and Health Over Time: Predictive Effects in a National Sample of African Americans

David L. Roth, Therri Usher, Eddie M. Clark, Cheryl L. Holt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


In this study, two telephone interviews that assessed both religious involvement and health-related quality of life were conducted approximately 2.5 years apart in a national sample of 290 African Americans. Religious involvement was assessed with an instrument that measured both personal religious beliefs (e.g., having a personal relationship with God) and more public religious behaviors (e.g., attending church services). Health-related quality of life was measured with version 2 of the Medical Outcomes Study 12-item short form (SF-12v2). Structural equation models indicated that higher religious beliefs at baseline predicted better physical and mental health 2.5 years later. Higher religious behaviors at baseline contributed smaller, complementary suppression effects. Physical and mental health indicators from the SF-12v2 at baseline did not predict changes in either religious beliefs or religious behaviors over time. These findings indicate that, for African Americans, personal religious beliefs lead to beneficial health effects over time, whereas individual differences in health do not appear to predict changes in religious involvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)417-424
Number of pages8
JournalJournal for the Scientific Study of Religion
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • African American
  • cross-lagged panel analysis
  • health
  • longitudinal
  • religious involvement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies


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