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Yen K. Le, Ralph L. Piedmont, Ph.D., Teresa A. Wilkins, Ph.D.

Spirituality, Stress, and Resilience among Middle-aged Vietnamese American Catholics

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Middle adulthood is the developmental period that often starts from 40-45 years of age and extends to 60-65 years of age (Santrock, 2015). In spite of possible gains which might occur during this middle-aged period in the areas of education, career, and relationship (Willis & Schaie, 2005), many middle-aged people experience much stress due to increasing responsibilities and roles, as well as a need to balance work and relationship responsibilities in the midst of physical and psychological changes related to aging (Lachman, 2004). Resilience, the ability to maintain positive functioning in the midst of adversity, can be a strength-based resource to assist mid-lifers in adapting to life's stressors and changes in a positive manner (Ryan & Caltabiano, 2009).

Objective: Spirituality and religiosity are consistently associated with well-being, but little is known about the mechanism behind these associations. The present study aimed (a) to examine the relationship between spirituality, religiosity, stress, and resilience, and (b) to investigate the incremental validity of spirituality and religiosity on stress and resilience among individuals at mid-life (40-60 of age).

Hypothesis 1: Spirituality and religiosity should relate to resilience and stress in people’s life.

Hypothesis 2: There should be significant gender and religious status effects on the ASPIRES scales as well as the scales of personality, resilience in midlife, and stress overload.

Hypothesis 3: Spirituality and religiosity should have incremental validity over religious status, gender, and the personality traits of midlife participants in predicting total resilience in midlife and stress overload.

Method: Participants were 171 Vietnamese American Catholics (95 females and 76 males), aged 40-60 from different states in the U.S. Participants completed the following measures: the SOS (a measure of stress), the ASPIRES (a measure of spiritual and religious motivations), the IPIP-50 (a measure of personality), and the RIM (a measure of midlife resilience). A survey questionnaire including demographic and key variables of this study was digitized and loaded into a Qualtrics Survey. All the scales were translated into Vietnamese and back translated. Participants could respond to the questionnaire in either English or Vietnamese. The current study used the snowball sampling technique, in which participants received an email with an online link and it took them about 20 minutes to complete the survey.

Results: Results indicated that all five subscales of ASPIRES (Piedmont, 2010) measuring spirituality and religiosity significantly related to resilience; whereas stress only significantly related to Prayer Fulfillment, Religious Involvement, and Religious Crisis. The Religious Involvement scale provided a significant incremental validity in the explained variance of the TRIM, ΔR2 = .02, Partial F(5, 162) = 5.06, p < .05. The Religious Crisis scale, ΔR2 = .06, Partial F(5, 162) = 17.30, p < .001; and the Universality scale, ΔR2 = .02, Partial F(5, 162) = 5.45, p < .05 provided significant incremental validity in the explained variance of the TSOS.

Conclusion: Results indicated that spirituality and religiosity might be important resources for managing stress and maintaining resilience for Vietnamese American Catholics at midlife.


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