Religious Surrender and Attendance Scale Predicts Prenatal Depression

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Prenatal depression is a significant problem because of the myriad psychosocial, somatic and obstetrical complications it poses. Numerous studies have confirmed that religiosity is related to positive health consequences, such as decreased levels of depression, but few have looked at religiosity’s relation to prenatal depression. Evidence is accumulating that Surrender to God, a specific measure of religiosity, is a possible mechanism by which religiosity positively impacts health, and this study is an investigation of Surrender’s relationship to prenatal depression. The 3-item Religious Surrender and Attendance Scale (RSAS-3) is a brief religiosity measurement that incorporates Surrender and church attendance. RSAS-3 was previously found to better predict stress levels during pregnancy than church attendance alone, and it was theorized that it would also be useful in predicting depression levels. Participants in the current study included 330 pregnant women who were enrolled in the state funded project, Tennessee Intervention for Pregnant Smokers, which enrolled smokers and nonsmokers. Participants met with a case manager at their prenatal care provider and completed two packets of questionnaires: one in the first trimester and one in the third trimester. Measures used in this study included the RSAS-3, and the Centers for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD-10). Participants were paid $20 for each research meeting. Zero order correlations revealed that Education level and RSAS-3 were significantly negatively related to depression levels in the first trimester and approaching significance in the third trimester. Education was therefore included in the hierarchical regression model in step 1 and RSAS-3 in step 2. Hierarchical multiple regression revealed that the full model explained 4% of the variance in 1st trimester depression scores (F 2, 325) = 11.5, p <.001., with RSAS-3 explaining an additional 2.6% of the variance in depression after controlling for education, R squared change = .026, F change (1, 325) p = .003 The full model for 3rd trimester depression explained 6.7% of the variance in 1st trimester depression scores (F 2, 197) = 9.00, p <.001. RSAS-3 explained an additional 1.7% of the variance in depression after controlling for education, R squared change = .017, F change (1, 197) p = .058. RSAS-3 was found to predict depression levels throughout pregnancy, with those scoring higher on RSAS-3 having significantly lower depression scores. A noteworthy strength of the current study is the prospective design. While being religious does not guarantee depression will not occur, early treatment of depression symptoms can assuage negative health consequences for the mother and child. If further research verifies a causal mechanism between Surrender and depression, non-pharmacologic treatments utilizing religious coping may be useful for prenatal depression.


Johnson City, TN

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