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Psychol Med ; : 1-10, 2022 Feb 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1701116


BACKGROUND: In-person religious service attendance has been linked to favorable health and well-being outcomes. However, little research has examined whether online religious participation improves these outcomes, especially when in-person attendance is suspended. METHODS: Using longitudinal data of 8951 UK adults, this study prospectively examined the association between frequency of online religious participation during the stringent lockdown in the UK (23 March -13 May 2020) and 21 indicators of psychological well-being, social well-being, pro-social/altruistic behaviors, psychological distress, and health behaviors. All analyses adjusted for baseline socio-demographic characteristics, pre-pandemic in-person religious service attendance, and prior values of the outcome variables whenever data were available. Bonferroni correction was used to correct for multiple testing. RESULTS: Individuals with online religious participation of ≥1/week (v. those with no participation at all) during the lockdown had a lower prevalence of thoughts of self-harm in week 20 (odds ratio 0.24; 95% CI 0.09-0.62). Online religious participation of <1/week (v. no participation) was associated with higher life satisfaction (standardized ß = 0.25; 0.11-0.39) and happiness (standardized ß = 0.25; 0.08-0.42). However, there was little evidence for the associations between online religious participation and all other outcomes (e.g. depressive symptoms and anxiety). CONCLUSIONS: There was evidence that online religious participation during the lockdown was associated with some subsequent health and well-being outcomes. Future studies should examine mechanisms underlying the inconsistent results for online v. in-person religious service attendance and also use data from non-pandemic situations.