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Pac Health Dialog. 2001 Sep;8(2):407-16.

Validating a measure of religiousness/spirituality for Native Hawaiians.

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  • 1School of Social Work, University of Hawai'i at Manoa, Honolulu 96822, USA.


Religiousness and spirituality are integral to the human experience. There is emerging literature that shows that religiousness and spirituality are associated with various mental and physical health outcomes. Yet, the development of measures to accurately assess these phenomena in health settings is still in its early stages. The difficulties in developing standardized definitions and measures relate to varying interpretations of religiousness and spirituality, a reluctance to utilize a scientific approach to understand an existential and personal experience, and multicultural distinctions. The potential for designing health interventions in which religiousness and spirituality are integrated rests upon the development of measures that are psychometrically sound. This paper reports on preliminary research that empirically assesses one measure of religiousness and spirituality for Native Hawaiians--a group besieged with an array of health problems. The measure is the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality (BMMRS) developed by the National Institute on Aging and the Fetzer Institute. This instrument has shown to have appropriate reliability and validity scores. A modified BMMRS was administered to 15 Native Hawaiians who underwent a cultural intervention of exercise, diet, and education in a program called Uli'eo Koa (warrior fitness). The BMMRS was slightly modified based on the literature and earlier research to be more specific to Native Hawaiians. Overall, measures of internal consistency supported the reliability of the BMMRS. The strongest subscales included the domains of "daily spiritual experiences," "religious and spiritual coping," and "religious support." Low internal consistency estimates for the items, "watches/listens to religious programs," "family makes demands," and "significant loss in faith," suggest that these items do not measure the same concept for participants. Although the intercorrelations among the subscales were generally low and with wide variability, 10 of the 17 subscales/single items were moderately to highly correlated with one another, indicating concurrent validity. These subscales, some of which assessed, "daily spiritual experiences," "religious and spiritual coping," and "organizational religiousness," suggest that core ideas on spirituality and religiousness for these participants, broadly reflect both "personal" and "organizational" viewpoints. Caution should be used in interpreting the results of the study because of limitations in the study's design. However, despite these limitations in design, this study provides empirical support for future research on religiousness and spirituality for Native Hawaiians.

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