Abstract: The Effects of Spirituality on the Psychological Well-Being of Child Abuse Survivors (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

94P The Effects of Spirituality on the Psychological Well-Being of Child Abuse Survivors

Thursday, January 16, 2020
Marquis BR Salon 6 (ML 2) (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
* noted as presenting author
Juye Ji, PhD, Associate Professor, California State University, Fullerton, Fullerton, CA
Soojin Sou, student, California State University, Fullerton, CA
Background and Purpose: Child abuse is a key public health and social welfare concern due to its prevalence and associated adverse physical and mental health outcomes. While the detrimental effects of child abuse are comprehensive, treatment to mitigate its adverse outcomes is less clear. One tool often overlooked in the treatment of child abuse survivors is spirituality (Ahrens et al., 2009; Koenig, 2012). Spirituality has been found to have significant associations with higher levels of resilience and well-being and was also identified as the second most helpful tool in recovery, following relationships (Ahrens et al., 2009; Madsen & Abell, 2010). It is important to integrate spirituality in treatment as the majority of Americans identify religion as an important part of their lives (Ahrens et al., 2009; Tishelman & Fontes, 2017). The purpose of the current study was to explore the effects of spirituality on psychological well-being and if they differ between individuals with and without child abuse experiences.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was a secondary analysis of the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS Refresher), 2011-2014 and the MIDUS Refresher: Biomarker Project, 2012-2016 (Ryff et al., 2017). The MIDUS Refresher data was collected through a phone interview and two self-administered surveys. The sample of the MIDUS Refresher Biomarker study consisted 188 abused and the 675 non-abused English-speaking, non-institutionalized adults. Participants who reported a rating of 3 (sometimes true) or higher on any of physical, emotional or sexual abuse question were identified as child abuse survivors. Multiple dimensions of spirituality were assessed including religious identification, private religious practices, religious support, religious/spiritual coping, and daily spiritual experiences. The psychological well-being variables self-acceptance, autonomy, personal growth, and positive relations with others were measured through Ryff’s Model of Psychological Well-being (Ryff et al., 2017). A series of multiple linear regressions was conducted to investigate the effect of spirituality variables on psychological well-being. Regression analyses were conducted with the total sample and separately with the abused and non-abused groups.

Results:  In the analyses of the total sample, the abused group showed significantly lower levels of psychological well-being for all psychological well-being outcomes assessed. Furthermore, the results indicate spirituality as a significant predictor of psychological well-being among both the abused and non-abused population. Spirituality was found to have significant relationships with the psychological well-being variables autonomy, personal growth, self-acceptance, and positive relations with others. Overall, much larger variances in psychological well-being variables were explained by the spirituality variables in the abused sample than in the non-abused sample and the effects of spirituality on psychological well-being were stronger in in the abused sample than the non-abused sample, which also varied depending on the spirituality and psychological well-being variables.

Conclusions and Implications: This study serves to underscore the effectiveness of spirituality as a tool to mitigate the harmful effects of child abuse. The findings of the study suggest the integration of spirituality in education and trainings of social workers, treatment providers, and other professionals working with survivors of child abuse, to ensure the best treatment possible.