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Ethn Dis. 2004 Spring;14(2):189-97.

Religion, spirituality, and healthcare choices of African-American women: results of a national survey.

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Stony Brook School of Medicine, Stony Brook University, State University of New York, USA.



This study describes the prevalence and patterns of use of religion and spirituality for health reasons among African-American women.


Respondents were asked about their use of religion/spirituality for health reasons as part of a larger study of the prevalence and correlates of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use among women. In 2001, a national survey of 3,172 women, aged 18 and older, was conducted in 4 languages, with over-sampling among African-, Mexican-, and Chinese-American participants. This paper focuses on the sub-sample of 812 African-American women.


Overall, 43% of the African-American women reported using religion/spirituality for health reasons in the past year. Factors significantly associated with the use of religion/spirituality for health reasons included having an income of dollar 40,000-dollar 60,000, an education level of college graduate or more, or being 37-56 years of age; worse health status approached significance. African-American women utilized religion and spirituality most often for serious conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and depression. African-American women who had used religion/spirituality in the past year for health reasons were more than twice as likely to have used some form of CAM, and also more likely to have seen a medical doctor during the year prior to the interview, compared to their counterparts.


Religion and spirituality are associated with health-seeking behaviors of African-American women. The use of religion and spirituality for health reasons warrants additional research, particularly its use for chronic and serious conditions, and its role in the health-seeking behavior of African-American women in conjunction with the utilization of conventional medicine and CAM.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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