Sociology Faculty Publications


Enhanced Religiosity Following Illness? Assessing Evidence of Religious Consolation Among Black and White Americans

Document Type



This study assesses variation among Black and White Americans in the impact of ill-health on public and subjective religiosity. It is the first longitudinal assessment of race-based variation in "religious consolation." The under-explored consolation thesis anticipates ill-health influencing religiosity rather than the reverse, with religiosity functioning as a coping resource marshaled by the ill. Effects across races of physical ill-health indicators (chronic illnesses and impaired functioning) on religiosity outcomes are the main focus; but across-race variation in psychological distress-induced "consolation" is also assessed. Findings yield only limited evidence of consolation in each race, and restricted variation across races: Change in impaired functioning slightly enhances Whites' subjective religiosity; but that effect does not significantly eclipse the impact among Blacks. There is no evidence of physical illness-induced consolation among Blacks; and the proposition that Blacks are more inclined toward consolation than Whites is affirmed only for psychological distress. There are no signs in either race that consolation is intensified by aging or higher religiosity, and no significant across-race differentials in effects of these illness-age and illness-religiosity interactions on subsequent religiosity. The multi-population model utilizes Americans' Changing Lives data.

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Availability via databases maintained by the United States National Library of Medicine.

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Publication Title

Review of Religious Research