Theses Doctoral

The Influence of Spiritual Coping and Racial Identity on Psychological Well-Being in Black Americans

Smith, Sidney

According to the 2003 report of the Presidential Commission on Mental Health, it is vital that all Americans obtain an equal share in the best available mental health services and outcomes, irrespective of race, gender, ethnicity, or geographic location. The report suggests that services must be tailored to include culturally diverse populations and should also provide access to positive outcomes of care. While spirituality has been historically linked to Black Americans as a resource and buffer, the nature and role of its effectiveness still needs to be determined and explored. This study moves our understanding forward in terms of defining spirituality and its effect on healthy psychological functioning by exploring how spiritual beliefs can possibly bolster one's ability to cope with hardships. Understanding what factors in one's life can possibly improve psychological functioning is of particular significance at this time when so many challenges are disproportionately affecting the well-being of Black Americans. The search for resilience promoting factors must also be examined. Participants in this study were 362 Black individuals enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs in colleges and universities who completed the Black Racial Identity Scale (BRIAS; Helms & Parham, 1985), the Spirituality Scale (SS; Jagers, Boykin, & Smith, 1997), the Africultural Coping Systems Inventory (ACSI) (Utsey et al., 2000), the Brief Symptom Inventory-18 (BSI-18; Derogatis, 2000), the Psychological Well-Being Scale (PWB; Ryff, 1989), and a personal data form. Hierarchical regression analysis indicated that spirituality partially mediates the relationship between racial identity and psychological functioning. Furthermore, results support the historical notion that spirituality is an important instrument by which Blacks are able to deal with negative experiences. Implications for clinical practice and future considerations are discussed.


  • thumnail for SmithIII_columbia_0054D_10788.pdf SmithIII_columbia_0054D_10788.pdf application/pdf 830 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Carter, Robert T.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
June 6, 2012