‘Mental health and self-rated health among U.S. South Asians: the role of religious group involvement’

Samuel Stroope*, Blake Victor Kent, Ying Zhang, Donna Spiegelman, Namratha R. Kandula, Anna B. Schachter, Alka Kanaya, Alexandra E. Shields

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objectives: Only one community-based study has assessed religious group involvement and health outcomes among South Asians in the U.S., with mixed results. Here, using a large, South Asian community-based sample, the effects of six religious group involvement predictors–religious tradition, attendance, group prayer, giving/receiving congregational emotional support, congregational neglect, and congregational criticism–were examined in relation to four health outcomes: self-rated health, positive mental health functioning, trait anxiety, and trait anger. Design: The study used a new religion/spirituality questionnaire in the Mediators of Atherosclerosis Among South Asians Living in America (MASALA), the largest study of mental and physical well-being among U.S. South Asians. Associations were assessed cross-sectionally using OLS regression in both the full sample (N = 928) and a subsample of congregation members (N = 312). Results: Jains reported better self-rated health compared to Hindus and Muslims. Group prayer involvement, when measured ordinally, was positively associated with self-rated health and mental health functioning. In reference group comparisons, individuals who participated in group prayer once/day or more had lower levels of anxiety and anger compared to several comparison groups in which individuals prayed less than once a day. Religious service attendance was associated with higher levels of anxiety. Giving/receiving congregational emotional support was positively associated with self-rated health and mental health functioning, and inversely associated with anxiety. Congregational criticism was associated with higher levels of anger and anxiety. Conclusions: This study provided a new assessment of religious group involvement and health in the U.S. South Asian population. Religious group participation was associated with mental and self-rated health in well-controlled models, indicating this is a fruitful area for further research. Group religious involvement may be a health-promoting resource for U.S. South Asians who are religiously active, but it is not an unalloyed boon.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)388-406
Number of pages19
JournalEthnicity and Health
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022


  • Hindu
  • Immigrant
  • Jain
  • Muslim
  • South Asian
  • anger
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • mental health
  • religion
  • self-rated health
  • spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Cultural Studies
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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