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Background: There is a growing evidence base for how people use religious and spiritual coping, and how coping patterns differ between ethnic groups. Aims: To describe what constitutes religious coping and compare patterns of religious coping across ethnic groups. Methods: In-depth interviews were completed by 116 people recruited from six ethnic groups. Subjects described how they cope with mental distress; their accounts were recorded, transcribed and subjected to the "Framework" approach to qualitative data analysis. Results: Formalized religion was not always necessary for individuals to make use of religious coping. Religious coping was most commonly practiced by Bangladeshi Muslims and African Caribbean Christians. Coping included prayer, listening to religious radio, using amulets, talking to God, having a relationship with God and having trust in God. Cultural or spiritual coping practices were indistinguishable from religious coping among Muslims. There was a greater degree of choice and personal responsibility for change among Christians who showed a less deferential and more conversational quality to their relationship with God. Religious and spiritual coping practices were frequently used, and led to a change in emotional states. Conclusions: People use religious coping, and this has implications for promoting resilience and recovery. © Shadowfax Publishing and Informa UK Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Mental Health

Publication Date





141 - 151