The quest for existential meaning constitutes a universal phenomenon traditionally manifested in official religions (religiosity) or personal modes of transcendence (spirituality). Religiosity and spirituality have been found to be associated with a variety of mental health and illness parameters. In the last decades there is an increasing number of publications with interesting results on the relationship between religiosity and mental health, both on a theoretical and a clinical level. Recent research suggests the presence of clinically important interactions between religious beliefs and mental health, although the exact nature of the associations remains unclear. The aim of the present study is to investigate subjective health status in relation to specific dimensions of religiosity and spirituality in Greek students; 202 students of the faculty of Theology of the University of Athens were interviewed using the Brief Multidimensional Measurement of Religiousness/Spirituality (BMMRS), which assesses the dimensions of "daily spiritual experiences", "meaning", "values/beliefs", "forgiveness", "private religious practices", "religious/spiritual coping", "religious support", "religious/ spiritual history", "commitment", "organizational religiousness", and "religious preferences". Subjective health status was measured by the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-28) which examines four areas of health in the following sub-scales: (a) somatic symptoms, (b) anxiety and insomnia, (c) social dysfunction and (d) severe depression. Pearson correlations coefficients and linear regression analyses were used to estimate the associations of GHQ-28 subscales with religiosity dimensions. High scores in each dimension of BMMRS corresponded to a low level of religiosity. The dimension of "daily spiritual experiences" was positively correlated with the subscales of anxiety/ insomnia, social dysfunction and severe depression, while the dimension of "values/beliefs" with social dysfunction and severe depression and the dimension of "forgiveness" with all GHQ-28 subscales. The "organizational religiousness" dimension was positively correlated with anxiety/ insomnia, while overall self-ranking with social dysfunction and severe depression. Additionally, the dimension of "meaning" had a negative correlation with somatic symptoms. Moreover, in the multiple linear regression analyses, "meaning" was independently negative associated with somatic symptoms (p=0.032), whilst "daily spiritual experiences" were positively associated with anxiety/insomnia (p=0.023). Also, "values/beliefs and the overall self-ranking were positively associated with social dysfunction (p=0.026), (p=0.01) and "daily spiritual experiences", "values/beliefs", "forgiveness", as well as the overall self-ranking with severe depression (p=0.03), (p=0.01), (p=0.017), (p=0.009). Certain religiosity dimensions ("daily spiritual experiences", "values/beliefs", "forgiveness" and "organizational religiousness") were correlated with lower morbidity, in accordance to previous reports in different populations, whereas "meaning" was correlated with more somatic symptoms.

Key words: Religiosity, spirituality, mental health.

K.T. Kioulos, J.D. Bergiannaki, A. Glaros, M. Vassiliadou, Z. Alexandri, G. Papadimitriou  (page 38) - Full article