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mental health, religion, spirituality, stress and coping



  1. Hamilton, Jill B.
  2. Moore, Angelo D.
  3. Johnson, Khishaana A.
  4. Koenig, Harold G.


Background: The use of religious practices to promote mental health among African Americans is well documented. African Americans are more likely to report strong religious affiliationsand to use religion over prescribed medications for mental health problems. However, few studies have exploredhow African Americans use religious practices in response to stressful life events.


Objective: The aim of this study is to examine how African American women and men find comfort in using scripture passages from The Bible.


Methods: Fifty-four African American adults residing in the Southeastern United States participated in a qualitative descriptivestudy using open-ended semistructured interviews. Participants were asked to describe their use of scripture passages from The Bible and the personal meanings associatedwith these scriptures in the context of a family death or life-threatening illness.


Results: These participants used scripture passages categorized as God as Protector, God as Beneficent, Praise and Thanksgiving, God as Healer, Memory of Forefathers, Prayers to God, and Life after Death. Few gender differences were noted. However, women were more likely to use scripture passages of God as Protector and Life after Death, whereas men were more likely to use God as Beneficent and God as Healer.


Discussion: The religious practice of reading scripture passages from The Bible is a mental health-promoting strategy used during stressful life events. The findings of this study have practical uses for nurses and can be used to inform acceptable and sensitive approaches in addressing mental health issues and spiritual care needs in African American patients.