Abstract: American Muslims and Predictors of Health Status: A National Study (Society for Social Work and Research 21st Annual Conference - Ensure Healthy Development for all Youth)

135P American Muslims and Predictors of Health Status: A National Study

Friday, January 13, 2017
Bissonet (New Orleans Marriott)
* noted as presenting author
David R. Hodge, PhD, Professor, Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
Altaf Husain, PhD, Associate Professor, Howard University, Washington, DC
Tarek D. Zidan, PhD, Assistant Professor, Indiana University at South Bend, Washington, DC, DC
Background and Purpose: Self-rated health is used by the World Health Organization and many other actors as a proxy for general health status. Given the importance of health as a public policy concern, researchers have sought to identify predictors of self-rated health among various populations. Since perceptions of health are shaped by national and cultural factors, it is critical to examine the relationship between potential predictors and self-rated health among different populations. Yet, despite the growing size of the culturally distinct Islamic community in the US, no research has examined predictors of self-rated health with American Muslims. This cross-sectional study addresses this gap in the literature by identifying predictors of self-rated health among a community sample of American Muslims.

Methods: To obtain a national sample of self-identified Muslims, a purposive, snowball sampling strategy was used to identify Islamic organizations in the US (N=22). The study design was cross-sectional. After pilot testing, surveys were administered online to members of the organizations who agreed to participate in the study. A post hoc power analysis indicated that the resulting study sample size (N=269) had sufficient power (.86) to identify significant relationships (≤ .05) given an odds ratio or effect size of 1.6. The mean age of the sample was approximately 38 years (SD =11.70), and a majority were: Sunni (86%), female (69%), married (58%), held graduate degrees (57%), born outside the US (52%), and a plurality self-identified as Middle Eastern (37%).

In addition to demographics, potential predictors measured included: alcohol and cigarette use; depression [assessed with the short form of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D)], discrimination, and prayer and Mosque attendance. The dependent variable was measured with a dichotomous item (0=good to excellent health, 1=poor/fair health). To identify predictors of self-rated health, logistic regression was conducted.

Results: The results of the final regression model indicated that Muslims who were younger, married, had a graduate degree, and prayed more frequently were more likely to report higher levels of self-rated health. Conversely, respondents who reported clinically significant levels of depressive symptoms, and being singled out by law enforcement as a result of being a Muslim, were more likely to report poorer self-rated health.

In terms of effect sizes, depression and discrimination were among the strongest predictors. Muslims who reported clinically significant levels of depressive symptoms were 3.16 times more likely (95% C.I. 1.36 – 7.21), and Muslims who reported being singled out by law enforcement officials within the past 12 months were 2.95 times more likely (95% C.I. 1.20 – 7.26), to report poorer self-rated health.

Implications: The results highlight the importance screening for depression when assessing health in practice settings, particularly when working with Muslims from cultures where the psychological dimensions of health are not widely affirmed. Given the protective effect of spirituality, practitioners might explore incorporating Muslims’ spiritual strengths into clinical work. At the macro level, the link between discrimination and poorer self-rated health underscores the need for efforts to address the discrimination Muslims often experience in the US.