Personal growth in the midst of negative life experiences: The role of religious coping strategies and appraisals
Bade, Mary Kristin
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Recent research indicates that endorsing religious beliefs is associated with the growth and positive outcomes that can occur when people experience negative events. However, studies that have examined a full range of specific religious coping methods have not related these to different areas of posttraumatic growth. The present study seeks to clarify the ways that specific religious coping methods are related to the different types of growth that can occur when people experience negative events. A community sample of adult. Christian, church members from a variety of denominations completed self report measures. Participants described their religious coping, posttraumatic growth, and appraisals in regards to the most serious, negative event they experienced in the past three years. Current distress levels of participants, religious demographics, and nonreligious demographics were also assessed. The results suggest that religious coping predicted a substantial amount of the variance in different types of posttraumatic growth in this sample. The use of theoretically positive religious coping methods, and to a lesser extent the use of theoretically negative religious coping methods, w ere positively related to all five types of posttraumatic growth. Canonical analysis revealed a primary relation between the overall constructs of religious coping and posttraumatic growth, while secondary and tertiary relations appeared to be related to interpersonal relationships and spiritual growth or faith issues, respectively. The specific types of religious coping and the five areas of posttraumatic growth were differentially related to primary appraisals, appraisals of control, current distress levels, age of participants, literal interpretation of scriptures, denominational affiliation, and frequency of church attendance. Gender was not differentially related to the construct of religious coping or posttraumatic growth in this sample. Specific results for this study are reported and implications for research, theory, and practice are discussed. This study suggests that it would be helpful for psychotherapists to assess a broad range of religious coping methods among religious clients dealing with negative events.