Date of Award

Summer 8-1-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Sarah Cook, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Nadine Kaslow, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kelly Lewis, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Julia Perilla, Ph.D.


Religious coping and spiritual well-being were found to be culturally important resilience factors for African American women suffering from abuse and depressive symptoms. This investigation aimed to investigate whether: (1) spiritual well-being and its two components of existential and religious well-being mediate the Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)-Depressive Symptoms (DS) link; (2) positive and negative religious coping moderate the IPV-DS association; and (3) the mediating effect of spiritual well-being in the IPV-DS link is moderated by level of religious coping (i.e., moderated mediation). The study utilized data from 208 low income, suicidal and abused African American women, ages 18-55. Only the existential component of spiritual well-being was found to fully mediate the IPV-DS link. This indirect effect weakened at higher levels of negative religious coping. As predicted, higher levels of negative religious coping were associated with higher levels of depressive symptoms. Surprisingly, higher levels of negative religious coping were also associated with increases in existential well-being which, in turn, led to decrease in depressive symptoms. The findings underscore the importance of addressing existential well-being and religious coping in clinical interventions and in training for mental health professionals. Clinical and research implications of these findings are discussed and future directions recommended.