Role of Religiosity in the Lives of the Low-Income Population: A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence. New Research


Table 6-3 highlights examples of three studies that are currently under way that fill in some of the research gaps in this literature for religiosity and substance use among low-income populations. One identified gap is the need to increase the number of qualitative or mixed-method studies so that a deeper understanding of how religiosity impacts substance use outcomes in low-income populations can be gained. The current research led by Gais and Arria begins to address these issues. Other gaps include the need for more research on ethnic and linguistic minority populations, particularly those residing in rural communities, and the need for more longitudinal studies to inform treatment providers on which types of strategies work best for particular populations and which strategies support sustained behavior change. New research being conducted by Janette Beals focusing on rural Indian reservation populations and that of Elizabeth Robinson that employs a longitudinal research design to examine the roles that spirituality and religiosity may play in recovery are examples of how research is beginning to fill the gaps on rural populations and the lack of spirituality measurement.

Table 6-3.
Examples of New Research Studies
Study Research Focus
Understanding the comparative effectiveness of faith-based and secular social service organizations
Principal Investigators (PIs): Thomas Gais and Amelia Arria
Funded by foundation and federal grants, this is a two-phase study designed to understand whether and how religiosity in substance abuse treatment programs increases, decreases, or has no impact on the effectiveness of such programs in treating low-income patients with substance abuse problems. An important contribution of this research is that the study uses an experimental research design including random assignment to assess overall treatment effectiveness. In addition, this study will examine the individual level of religiosity among clients and the impact on client outcomes. This study is an example of a mixed-method study using both qualitative and quantitative data.
Chronic stressors and drug abuse in two Indian populations
PI: Janette Beals
Drug use has been documented among low-income American Indian reservation populations with American Indian youth reporting greater use of drugs and tobacco than many others in the United States. New research funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse seeks to understand the relationship between chronic stressors and drug use among American Indian populations. It will also examine the role of personal resources such as spirituality in understanding this relationship.
Long-term spiritual changes in recovery from alcoholism
PI: Elizabeth Robinson
This ongoing study funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism is designed to better characterize the dimensions and relevance of changes in spirituality that may occur over the 3 years following treatment entry for alcohol dependence. The significance of this new research is that it will provide a greater understanding of the roles that spirituality and religiosity may play in recovery. This work will inform future research on spirituality's role in recovery, the types of spiritual and religious change that may occur in recovery, the variations in rates of change, and identification of those for whom spiritual change may be important.

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