The moderate role of religious coping in the relationship between perceived racial discrimination and depression in Korean American Christians
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Previous findings in psychological studies show the adverse effects of racial discrimination. At the same time, liberation and postcolonial theologies in theological and religious studies suggest the empowering role of religion for an oppressed group. Based on these studies, this dissertation empirically tests and explores the theory of the role of religious coping in the relationship between perceived racial discrimination and depressive symptoms of mainline Protestant Korean American Christians. People search for ways to deal with stressful life experiences, and in this coping process, people for whom religion is a part of their orienting system often turn to religion for help. Specifically, this study examines whether religious coping patterns moderate the effects of perceived racial discrimination on depressive symptoms. Mainline Protestant Korean American Christian adults were recruited primarily from Korean churches in the New England, New York, and Washington D.C. areas. The final set included 174 participants who completed surveys through online or paper questionnaires about their perception of racial discrimination, religious coping, depressive symptoms, and demographics. Multiple regression analysis was used to test the moderation effect of religious coping on the relationship between perceived racial discrimination and depressive symptoms. The results show that perceived racial discrimination is positively correlated with depressive symptoms. Findings also suggest that positive religious coping does not buffer the deleterious effects of perceived racial discrimination on depressive symptoms, while negative religious coping mildly exacerbates depressive symptoms. The results are informative. For psychologists and clinicians, attending to a client's religious coping pattern is critical in delivering culturally appropriate services. For religious leaders and scholars of theology and religion, examining the meanings in religious beliefs and practices would be important as they can influence religious coping patterns, which in turn have effects on health. The limitations of the study and future research directions are discussed.
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