Is going to church good or bad for you? Denomination, attendance, and mental health of children in West Scotland

Abbotts, J., Sweeting, H. , Williams, R. and West, P. (2004) Is going to church good or bad for you? Denomination, attendance, and mental health of children in West Scotland. Social Science and Medicine, 58(3), pp. 645-656. (doi: 10.1016/S0277-9536(03)00283-1)

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Religiosity is often associated with mental health in adult populations, but not in a consistent direction. Conflicting results reflect the multidimensional nature of both concepts. Few studies have addressed the relationship between religiosity and mental health among children. In this paper, we examine the relation of weekly church attendance to measures of mental health for 11 year olds from the two main Christian denominations in West Scotland. Levels of church-attendance were low among those affiliated with the Church of Scotland and relatively high among Catholics. The only mental health measure to show a similar relationship with church attendance in both denominations was aggression, which was less prevalent among weekly attenders. Self-esteem, anxiety and depression all demonstrated an interaction, such that weekly church attendance was associated either with advantage for Catholics, disadvantage for children with a Church of Scotland affiliation, or both. Teasing/bullying acted in a small way as a mediating factor in these relationships. In an education system with separate Catholic and ‘non-denominational’ schools, we hypothesise that the relationship between church attendance and mental health may be contingent on whether church attendance is normative within the peer group.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Sweeting, Dr Helen
Authors: Abbotts, J., Sweeting, H., Williams, R., and West, P.
Subjects:R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing > Centre for Population and Health Sciences
College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:Social Science and Medicine

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