Loyola University Maryland

Emerging Scholars

Tiffany Anderson, Teresa A. Wilkins, Ph.D.

The Role of Spirituality and Afri-Cultural Coping among Graduate Students of African Descent

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The presence of racial injustice has negatively impacted the lives of African Americans for centuries (Taylor, Chatters, & Jackson, 2007). This study examined the relationship between women of African descent’s spirituality, with an emphasis on religious involvement and religious crisis, along with daily spiritual experience, on depressive symptoms, and perceived stressfulness of racist events. This study examined the relations between spirituality and Afri-cultural coping. Afri-cultural coping refers to techniques that result from African-centered culture that reflect the core components of attitudes and customs surrounding the shared collective ideology and rituals among individuals of African descent (Lyris Lewis-Coles, Constantine, 2006).

Participants were 33 females of African descent attending graduate programs across disciplines in the Baltimore metropolitan area. Scales included: Piedmont’s (2010) Assessment of Spiritual and Religious Sentiment scale (ASPIRES); Underwood’s (2011) Daily Spiritual Scale (DSES); Radloff’s (1977) Center of Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale Revised (CESD-R-20); Utsey, Brown, and Bolden’s (2004) Africultural Coping Systems Inventory (ACSI); Landrine’s (1999) Schedule of Racist Events, and Goldberg’s (1999) IPIP_50 Scale.

The results indicated significant positive correlations between Afri-cultural coping and Religious Crisis, Prayer Fulfillment, Agreeableness, and stressfulness. Further, after controlling for religious involvement and personality, Religious Crisis provided unique variance in the prediction of greater depression (R2=.74, PartialF[1, 31] = 4.42, <.005); and Daily Spiritual Experience provided unique variance in the prediction of lower levels of perceived stressfulness of racist events (R2=.75, PartialF[1, 31] = 4.53, <.005).

Spirituality did not moderate Afri-cultural coping’s effect on depression nor on the perceived stressfulness of racist events. Results of this study may assist pastoral counselors in implementing spiritual and cultural coping interventions in the therapeutic process, addressing negative health behaviors, and promoting knowledge surrounding stress measures (Reed & Neville, 2014). Additional implications, along with limitations to the study, will also be addressed.

Keywords: spirituality, Afri-cultural coping, depressive symptoms, African descent, stressfulness