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Religious Distress and Coping With Stressful Life Events: A Longitudinal Study


  • This research was supported by grants from the John Templeton Foundation and the Minnesota Veterans Research and Education Foundation, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Please address correspondence to: J. Irene Harris, Staff Psychologist, VA Medical Center, One Veterans Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55417. E-mail:



Hypothesis: Religious strain would mediate the relationship between stress symptoms at baseline and stress symptoms 1 year later.


Seventy-nine people with a history of stressful life events (55 women, 23 men, one unknown gender, average age 58 years) from community churches reported stressful life events, spiritual adjustment, and posttraumatic stress symptoms at initial assessment and 1-year follow-up.


Religious strain mediated the relationship between baseline and follow-up posttraumatic stress symptoms.


Because religious distress contributed to prediction of stress symptoms over time, it appears that religious distress is related to adjustment to stressful life events.