Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Micah McCreary


Empirical findings supporting the connection between religion and spirituality and health have been consistently found in the literature, whereas the factors explaining this relationship have lacked clarity. The present study sought to explore this relationship and establish health behavior, mental health, and social support as mediating factors to the proposed association between religious commitment and physical health. Physical health was measured by a number of indicators: body mass index, self-reported medical conditions, prescription drug use, over-the-counter medication usage, and problem use of drugs and alcohol. A sample of 150 college students from a university in Central Virginia participated in this study. The initial hypothesis was that there would be a positive correlation between religious commitment and each potential mediator: health behavior, mental health, and social support. The second hypothesis proposed that religious commitment and physical health would be correlated. The third hypothesis posits that health behavior; mental health; and social support would be correlated with physical health; thereby, establishing them as mediators. The results of this study confirmed that health behavior was related to religious commitment; however, the remaining two proposed mediators were not found to have significant relationships with religious commitment. While health behavior was correlated to religious commitment, physical health was not found to be significantly related to religious commitment. These findings did not satisfy the conditions deemed for mediation; therefore, it was unable to prove that health behavior, mental health, and social support mediate the relationship between religion/spirituality and health, as hypothesized. Further implications of these findings are discussed.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

December 2012