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Spirituality as a protective health asset for young people: an international comparative analysis from three countries

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Fiona Brooks, Valerie Michaelson, Nathan King, Jo Inchley, William Pickett

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Objectives: Spirituality has been proposed as a potential health asset a ‘developmental engine’ that works by fostering the search for connectedness, meaning and purpose. The aim is to examine to what extent spiritual health might be protective of young people’s overall health and well-being.

Methods: In 2014, young people aged 11, 13, and 15 years in England, Scotland and Canada were surveyed as part of the HBSC study (n = 26,701). The perceived importance of spiritual health and domains (connections with self, others, nature, and the transcendent) was measured in these countries. Multi-level log-binomial models were used to explore relationships between spiritual health and three self-reported positive health outcomes: general health status, subjective life satisfaction and health complaints.

Results:  Higher levels of perceptions of the importance of spiritual health, both overall and within the four domains, were associated with higher likelihoods of reporting each of the positive health outcomes.

Conclusions:  Spiritual health appears to operate as a protective health asset during adolescence and is significantly shaped by external relationships and connections.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-395
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Public Health
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jan 2018
StatePublished - Apr 2018

    Research areas

  • Adolescent, Young people, Gender, Nature, Spiritual health, Spirituality

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