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Keywords:

  • religion/spirituality;
  • depression;
  • functional status;
  • prison

Objective

We examined positive and negative religious coping as moderators of the relation between physical limitations, depression, and desire for hastened death among male inmates incarcerated primarily for murder.

Methods

Inmates over the age of 45 years who passed a cognitive screening completed face-to-face interviews (N = 94; mean age = 57.7 years; SD = 10.68). Multiple regression analyses included age, race/ethnicity, parole belief, physical health, positive or negative religious coping, and all two-way interactions represented by the product of health and a religious coping variable.

Results

Older inmates and those who reported greater levels of positive religious coping endorsed fewer symptoms of depression, whereas those who reported greater levels of negative religious coping endorsed more symptoms of depression. Inmates who reported higher levels of depression endorsed a greater desire for hastened death. The effect of physical functioning on desire for hastened death is moderated by negative religious coping such that those who endorsed higher levels of negative religious coping reported a greater desire for hastened death.

Conclusions

Examinations of religious/spiritual practices and mindfulness-based interventions in prison research have assumed a positive stance with regard to the potential impact of religious/spiritual coping on physical and mental health. The current findings provide cautionary information that may further assist in selection of inmates for participation in such interventions. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.