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Does Attending Worship Mitigate Racial/Ethnic Discrimination in Influencing Health Behaviors? Results From an Analysis of the California Health Interview Survey


Existing research suggests that religious institutions play a significant role in improving the health of communities, particularly those coping with racial and ethnic discrimination. Using the California Health Interview Survey, this article examines the relationship of self-reported experiences of racial/ethnic discrimination, worship attendance, and several health behaviors. Supporting existing research, higher self-reported racial/ethnic discrimination is associated with worse health behaviors. Logistic regression models indicate that the odds of engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors significantly increase for those who report attending worship, compared with those who do not attend worship, with variations by race/ethnicity. Worship attendance moderates the association between discrimination and binge drinking, but does not moderate the association for smoking, walking, or being obese. Findings suggest that religious attendance plays an important role in the health and well-being of all population groups. More research is needed to ascertain the reasons why attending worship may have the ability to mitigate the relationship between racial/ethnic discrimination and health.

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