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.