Effects of job stress, religious coping, and social support on clergy mental health : longitudinal evidence from a national sample of Presbyterian clergy
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The purpose of this thesis was to examine the unique and interactive effects of job stress (overtaxation, organizational, and management stress), religious coping (positive and negative), and church-based social support (received, provided, and anticipated) on the subsequent psychological outcomes (well-being and distress) among a national sample of Presbyterian clergy. The data were drawn from the February 1997 and November 1999 Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) Panel Study. Clergy currently serving a local congregation were included in the analyses (N = 521). Findings indicate that overtaxation, organizational, and management job stressors tend to increase subsequent levels of psychological distress, while organizational and management job stressors tend to decrease subsequent levels of psychological well-being. Consistent with prior research and with Lazarus and Folkman's Transactional Model of Stress and Coping, positive religious coping predicted subsequent psychological well-being. Finally, the findings from this study supported the stress-buffering effects of social support received from church members, indicating that this type of support may protect clergy from the damaging psychological effects of overtaxation and burnout over an extended period of time. This thesis concludes with a call for seminaries, denominations, and local churches to provide clergy serving in local church ministry with the social support they need. Doing so will enhance the psychological well-being of clergy, thus improving their personal capacity to effectively provide support to their church members and others in the community who seek their counsel.