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J Behav Med. 2014 Feb;37(1):102-12. doi: 10.1007/s10865-012-9472-7. Epub 2012 Nov 11.

Positive self-perceptions as a mediator of religious involvement and health behaviors in a national sample of African Americans.

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  • 1Department of Behavioral and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, 2369 Public Health Building (255), College Park, MD, USA,


Self-esteem and self-efficacy are theorized to serve as mediators of the relationship between religious involvement and health outcomes. Studies confirming these relationships have produced mixed evidence. This study examined whether self-esteem and self-efficacy mediate the relationship between religious involvement (beliefs, behaviors) and a set of modifiable health behaviors in a national probability sample of African Americans. African Americans, in general, are relatively high in religious involvement and have higher than average rates of chronic disease. Participants were interviewed by telephone, and a Religion-Health Mediational Model was tested using structural equation modeling. Results suggest that self-esteem and self-efficacy at least in part mediate the relationship between religious beliefs (e.g., relationship with God) and greater fruit and vegetable consumption, and lower alcohol consumption. Religious behaviors (e.g., service attendance) were found to have direct, unmediated effects on health behaviors. Findings have implications for church-based health promotion in African American communities such as education or support groups.

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