ARDA Dictionary
  • Mental Health Measures:Questions covering issues pertaining to an individual's mental health, views of mental health, attitudes toward those with mental health issues, medication, government intervention, etc. Definitions of good mental health vary, as do ways to measure mental health. Particular measures related to mental health, such as views of mental health, attitudes toward those with mental health issues, medication and mental health, government intervention, etc., can be found in the following ARDA datasets: HEALTH2 - 1997 Faith and Community Survey of Four Indianapolis Neighborhoods, MNTLHLTH - 2004 General Social Survey, EVMHP - 1996 General Social Survey, OUTSIDER - 2002 General Social Survey, PSYCMED4 - 2006 General Social Survey, SEENMNTL - 1998 General Social Survey MNTLHLTH - 2002 General Social Survey, SPMENTL - 1996 General Social Survey, KNWMHOSP - 1996 General Social Survey, MHTRTSLF - 2006 General Social Survey.
  • Mental Health:Mental health broadly refers to a person's psychological and emotional condition.
  • Mental Health, Religion and:Mental health consists of positive and negative dimensions. Positive mental health includes positive emotions (e.g., happiness, peace, etc.) as well as positive cognitive processes (e.g., optimistic thinking and adaptation), while negative mental health involves emotions, cognitions and behaviors that cause dysfunction in social relationships, occupation and recreation, and interfere with adaptation (e.g., anger, violence, addiction, etc.; see Koenig et al. 2012: 298). In the area of religion and health, an estimated 80 percent of studies focus specifically on mental health (Koenig 2012). In general, religiousness tends to improve positive mental health and reduce negative mental health outcomes. Examining hundreds of studies on mental health and religion, Koenig and colleagues (2012) found that religion/spirituality tends to improve mental well-being, increase hope/optimism, reduce loneliness/depression, increase social capital, reduce substance abuse and improve marital outcomes. There are, however, some studies that do not find religion to be a positive factor for mental health. For example, traditional religiousness is associated with the negative personality traits of authoritarianism (Shaffer and Hastings 2007; Watson et al. 2003) and neuroticism (Duriez and Soenens 2006; Jaarmsa et al. 2007). Nonetheless, the general conclusions from previous studies is that religion, as means to promote meaning, happiness and self-control, tends to be positively associated with beneficial mental health outcomes.
  • Spiritual, Religious, and Personal Beliefs (SRPB) Scale:As a subscale of the World Health Organization's Quality of Life (WHOQOL) scale, the Spiritual, Religious and Personal Beliefs (SRPB) scale assesses spirituality in health studies. Studies have found that SRPB was associated with better mental and physical health (see Saxena 2006). However, five of the eight dimensions of the subscale are so closely tied with mental health (e.g., hopefulness, meaning in life, peace, etc.) that the findings become somewhat circular and unclear, according to some researchers (see Koenig et al. 2012).
  • Religious Doubts:Doubting or questioning one's religion can take many forms, and religious doubts have been linked to adverse effects on mental health and well-being (Galek et al. 2007), though when framed as a change process, religious doubts can lead to psychological growth (see religious quest).
  • Prayer, Health Benefits of:Studies on the health benefits of prayer tend to be mixed, particularly in the context of intercessory prayer (praying on the behalf of others). Hodge (2007), in his meta-analysis of intercessory prayer studies, found that prayer produced with a small, but significant, association with health benefits among 7 of 17 studies, though the more rigorous studies tended to not produce significant results. In contrast, studies generally find that the person doing the praying, either for oneself or for others, tends to receive mental health benefits from it. A study by Boelens and colleagues (2009) found that prayer sessions with patients at a primary care office tended to lower their depression and anxiety while increasing optimism. However, sometimes prayer and religion is used as replacements for professional medical help, which can be dangerous for health outcomes (see Koenig et al. 2012). In sum, the person doing the praying, and how prayer is used in conjunction with medical services, matter when examining the health benefits of prayer.
  • Yoga:A term meaning "union," specifically referring to union with the divine. Early forms of yoga were related to ascetic practices and Hindu philosophy, but now many use it for physical fitness and mental health. In 1893, yoga was introduced to Americans by Swami Vivekananda, the first Hindu missionary in the United States. The practice took off in the 1950s and 1960s, and now it is considered mainstream (Prothero 2008: 291).
  • Brief RCOPE:A 14-item scale that is widely used by psychologists to measure religious coping (Pargament et al. 1998). Seven items assess positive religious coping strategies (e.g., seeking spiritual support, seeking religious help to forgive others, collaborating with God, etc.), while the other seven items measure negative religious coping strategies (e.g., believing God is punishing them, not loving, or has deserted them). Although positive coping tends to be more prevalent than negative coping, both tend to present themselves to some degree given the situation (see Koenig, Pargament, and Nielsen 1998). Many studies find that negative religious coping is associated with poor mental health, although there have been some cases where positive religious coping also was associated with poor mental health (for a discussion, see Koenig et al. 2012: 94-120). There also is a long version of the Brief RCOPE, known simply as the RCOPE, which consists of 105 items.
  • Counseling, Religious:A type of counseling that incorporates religious teachings to serve mental health needs. Many clients are already religious, although counselors may reach out to those nominally religious, homeless or poor. Depending on the particular faith group, counseling may incorporate prayer, meditation or scripture reading. Some forms of religious counseling may be completely faith-based, while others may incorporate secular therapeutic practices (Koenig, King and Carson 2012: 56-57).
  • Daily Spirituality Experiences (DSE) Scale:A popular scale used to assess spirituality in health studies (Underwood and Teresi 2002). The scale is actually a subscale of the widely used Fetzer Institute's Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness and Spirituality. It consists of either six or 16 items, depending on whether the researcher is using the long or short form. Some of the items include, “I feel deep inner peace of harmony," “I am spiritually touched by the beauty of creation” and “I feel thankful in my blessings.” However, Koenig and colleagues (2012) argue that the scale suffers from measurement contamination, as it is unclear whether some of the items are measures of spirituality or outcomes that are the result of spirituality. For example, is feeling peaceful the sign of spirituality or the result that comes from being spiritual? When used to predict other mental health outcomes, findings become difficult to interpret and tautological (i.e., the independent and dependent variables reflect the same phenomenon). Similar concerns have been voiced regarding the CAM, FACIT-SP and WHOQO-SRPB scales (see Koenig et al. 2012: 43-44).
  • Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy -- Spiritual Well-Being (FACIT-SP) Scale:A popular scale composed of 12 statements to assess the relationship between spirituality and health outcomes (see Brady et al. 1999). It is one of the most common ways to measure spirituality in cancer research, as the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT), is a version of the FACIT used to measure quality of life among cancer patients. Some of the items include “I feel peaceful,” “I have a reason for living” and “I have a sense of purpose in my life.” Studies have found the scale to correlate with less of a desire for a hastened death, less hopelessness and less suicidal ideation (see McClain et al. 2003). Some argue that the FACIT-SP is a well-validated instrument for the assessment of a patient's current spiritual state (Monod et al. 2011). However, other researchers argue that some of the items may not measure spirituality but measure the results of spirituality. With studies using dependent variables measuring meaning and hopefulness, this leads to unclear circular findings, as these studies correlate good mental health with itself (Koenig et al. 2012).
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