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Author: Thomson, Bob
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1. Thomson, Bob
Buffering the Stigma: Race, Incarceration, Religion, and Health
Presented: Atlanta GA, American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting, November 2018
Cohort(s): NLSY79
Publisher: American Society of Criminology
Keyword(s): Health, Mental; Health/Health Status/SF-12 Scale; Incarceration/Jail; Racial Differences; Religion

Permission to reprint the abstract has not been received from the publisher.

The relationship between religion and health is a double-edged sword. Religious involvement can benefit physical and mental health when it provides social and/or psychological resources for coping with negative life events. But it can have the opposite effect under certain conditions, such as feeling abandoned by God or belonging to a tradition that discourages medical care. Here, I consider whether race moderates the effect of religion for post-incarceration health outcomes, since health and incarceration are themselves stratified by race. Using panel data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY79), I regressed count measures of both physical and mental health at midlife on three-way interactions between race and ethnicity, attendance, and prior incarceration. Results confirmed that prior incarceration consistently diminished both physical and mental health, and that church attendance was generally protective of mental health. When modeling interaction effects, church attendance was modestly protective of health among African Americans who had been incarcerated, protective--but non-significantly--for Hispanic ex-cons, and a substantial risk factor for white former convicts. Black ex-cons apparently find supportive church environments while white ex-cons are likely stigmatized in their religious communities, especially those that express dispositional--rather than situational--attribution of moral transgressions.
Bibliography Citation
Thomson, Bob. "Buffering the Stigma: Race, Incarceration, Religion, and Health." Presented: Atlanta GA, American Society of Criminology Annual Meeting, November 2018.