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J Black Psychol. 2009 May 1;35(2):271-288.

Development and Validation of Instruments to Assess Potential Religion-Health Mechanisms in an African American Population.

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  • 1University of Maryland, College Park.


The health disparities that negatively affect African Americans are well-documented; however, there are also many sociocultural factors that may play a protective role in health outcomes. Religious involvement is noted to be important in the African American community and to have a positive association with health outcomes. However, few studies have explained why this relationship exists. This article reports on the development and validation of instruments to assess two proposed mediators of the relationship between religiosity and health for an African American population; perceived religious influence on health behaviors and illness as punishment from a higher power. We used a systematic iterative process, including interviews and questionnaire data from African Americans who provided feedback on item wording. We also solicited input from African American pastors. In a sample of 55 African Americans, the instruments appeared to have strong internal reliability (alpha = .74 and .91, respectively) as well as test-retest reliability (r = .65, .84, respectively, p < .001). Evidence far construct validity is also discussed, as are recommendations for health disparities research using these instruments.

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