Religion/spirituality as a stress coping mechanism for international students
Chai, Pei Minn
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The purpose of this study was to examine if religion/spirituality acts as a stress coping mechanism for a sample of international tertiary students who are often subjected to significant stressors related to acculturation and being away from their families. A sample of 515 domestic students and 151 international students at a New Zealand university were given a set of questionnaires to complete: the quality of life inventory including the additional special module about spirituality/religion/personal belief, both developed by the World Health Organization in collaboration with many member states; and the perceived level of stress scale and the ways of coping skills inventory. Results showed that there was no significant difference on religious/spiritual beliefs/personal belief total scores between international and domestic students. Nevertheless, when the data were analyzed by ethnicity, Asian students were significantly more religious/spiritual and used religion as one of the coping styles compared to European students. Therefore, the results confirmed that religion/spirituality functions as a coping mechanism for Asian students. Furthermore, the results support the main effect hypothesis, where religion/spirituality is beneficial for tertiary students, regardless of their level of stress.