A prospective study of clergy spiritual well-being, depressive symptoms, and occupational distress.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Work, when stressful, can be dispiriting. There are bidirectional and longitudinal links between occupational stress and depressive symptoms. Also, higher levels of religious participation are associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms and work distress. Some have argued that religious participation is a proxy for social support, rather than an independent variable. In order to study the independent association of religious participation with depressive symptoms and occupational distress, this longitudinal study of 895 United Methodist clergy measured the prospective relationships of spiritual well-being, depressive symptoms, and occupational distress, while controlling for a measure of social support. As expected, spiritual well-being, depressive symptoms and occupational distress were all significantly correlated at Time 1. Residualized change linear regression models assessed their prospective effects between Time 1 and Time 2 (1 year later). Higher levels of spiritual well-being were protective against increased depressive symptoms, even when controlling for perceived emotional support. In addition, lower levels of depressive symptoms were protective against increased occupational distress. Surprisingly, occupational distress did not predict depressive symptoms. Neither occupational distress nor depressive symptoms predicted spiritual well-being. The findings indicate a longitudinal and directional pattern, with lower spiritual well-being predicting depressive symptoms, which in turn predicted occupational distress. These findings suggest future intervention research for clergy, with a focus on spiritual well-being, and an overall goal of reducing depression and improving occupational function. More broadly, the results support an effect of spiritual well-being independent of social support. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Milstein, G; Hybels, CF; Proeschold-Bell, RJ

Published Date

  • January 1, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 12 / 4

Start / End Page

  • 409 - 416

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1941-1022

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1037/rel0000252

Citation Source

  • Scopus