Religious beliefs and behaviors are multidimensional and they profoundly determine the ways we respond to health and illness, suffering and death. Researchers have designed numerous scales to measure different dimensions of religious commitment, beliefs and behaviors. A thorough review of the literature has shown general relationships between religion and health, but no researcher has developed an instrument measuring dimensions of religious commitment specifically relevant to health behaviors.

In this study, scale items were developed to measure three dimensions of religious beliefs thought by Kenneth Vaux (1976) to be related to health behavior--purity of life, peace in existence, and belief in immortality. We developed an instrument to measure these together with dimensions of religious commitment suggested by M. B. King and R. A. Hunt (1975) In a sample of 601 Black church members from three different denominations--Baptists, Roman Catholics, and Seventh-day Adventists--correlations of these scales with health behaviors, stress, perceived health status, and health locus of control were tested.

The study findings suggested that there were significant correlations of religious beliefs and practices with health behaviors. However, for many variables, the pattern of correlations differed from one religious group to another. There were also differences among the groups on religious beliefs and health behaviors.

The study showed that the nature of relationships between religious beliefs and health practices were complex, and studies which treat religious beliefs and health behaviors as unitary constructs may not be doing justice to either.

The study yielded an instrument useful for further investigations into the specific factors in the religion-health relationship.


School of Public Health

First Advisor

Joyce Hopp

Second Advisor

Wilber Alexander

Third Advisor

William DeShay

Fourth Advisor

Jerry W. Lee

Degree Name

Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Health; Religion and Medicine; Blacks -- statistics & numerical data



Page Count

vi; 114

Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website



Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives