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Keywords:

  • social capital;
  • religious capital;
  • spiritual capital;
  • physical functioning;
  • emotional functioning

ABSTRACT

Spiritual and religious capital are forms of the broader construct of social capital. The present study, using probability-based sampling methods, surveyed a national sample of African American adults to examine the relative contributions of spiritual and religious capital to their physical and emotional functioning. Analyses were conducted to determine if these constructs made a unique contribution above and beyond general social capital. African American men and women (N = 803) were interviewed by telephone. Hierarchical linear regressions revealed that, across the full sample, although social capital was a positive predictor of physical and emotional functioning (p < .05 and p < .001), neither religious nor spiritual capital made an additional contribution to these outcomes. However, the relationships among these variables differed for men and women. Among men, social capital predicted positive emotional functioning (p < .001) but not physical functioning; spiritual and religious capital made no additional contribution to either outcome variable. Among women, social capital predicted positive emotional functioning (p < .01) but not physical functioning. However, religious capital did make a significant additional contribution to the prediction of emotional functioning (ΔR2, p < .01). Dividing the sample into different age groups did not produce any different findings from those found with the sample as a whole. Findings are discussed in terms of implications for church- and faith-based health promotion interventions aimed at health disparities reduction. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.