The pain and gain of religious/spiritual struggles: a longitudinal study of South African adults

Jong Hyun Jung, Kenneth I. Pargament, Shaun Joynt, Johannes H. De Kock, Richard G. Cowden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


We used two waves of longitudinal data from a sample of South Africans (n = 274) to examine whether religious/spiritual (R/S) struggles following an interpersonal transgression might lead to both pain (i.e., depression) and gain (i.e., perceived posttraumatic growth) six months later. We also explored the role of positive R/S coping in modifying each of these associations. After adjusting for a variety of covariates and prior values of the respective outcome assessed at baseline, the results indicated that R/S struggles were associated with a small increase in depression and perceived posttraumatic growth six months later. Positive R/S coping moderated the association between R/S struggles and perceived posttraumatic growth (but not depression), with R/S struggles yielding a stronger positive association with perceived posttraumatic growth at lower levels of positive R/S coping. We discuss some implications of our findings for supporting people who encounter R/S struggles in the aftermath of interpersonal transgressions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-319
Number of pages15
JournalMental Health, Religion and Culture
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Posttraumatic growth
  • psychological distress
  • religion/spirituality
  • religious coping
  • South Africa
  • transgression


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