Religious and non-religious coping, depressive symptoms, financial stress, and cigarette use among post-secondary vocational students
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Research suggests that depressive symptoms and financial stress are both associated with increased levels of cigarette smoking, yet not every individual who experiences depressive symptoms or financial stress smokes. The primary purpose of this study was to examine whether positive and negative religious coping moderated the influence of depressive symptoms and financial stress on current (past 30-day) cigarette smoking over and above the contributions of demographic covariates and nonreligious problem- and emotion-focused coping. Participants were drawn from a larger study comprised of a convenience sample of 1,120 post-secondary vocational/technical school students enrolled in programs such as welding, air-conditioning, and vocational nursing at two different two-year public colleges in Texas. These students are training to work in blue-collar occupations, which have higher smoking rates compared to white-collar occupations. Negative binomial regression analysis was used to test the study hypotheses. Depressive symptoms and financial stress increased the likelihood of smoking for female students, whereas financial stress decreased the likelihood of smoking for male students. Positive religious coping decreased the likelihood of smoking for females only. Consistent with religious coping theory and as expected, negative religious coping moderated the depressive symptoms-smoking relationship such that negative religious coping exacerbated the impact of depressive symptoms on cigarette smoking among females. Positive religious coping also moderated the depressive symptoms-cigarette smoking relationship for females. Contrary to expectations, positive religious coping exacerbated the likelihood of cigarette smoking among females with high levels of depressive symptoms. Negative religious coping moderated the financial stress-cigarette smoking relationship such that males who reported low financial stress and high levels of negative religious coping had the highest likelihood of smoking in the past month. For females, religious coping was associated with current cigarette use, but did not moderate the association between financial stress and smoking. Even after controlling for demographic covariates and nonreligious coping, positive and negative religious coping influenced the smoking behaviors of vocational students experiencing depressive symptoms and financial stress, and these outcomes varied by gender. Study limitations, implications, and suggestions for future directions in research are discussed.