Date of Award

Summer 8-2010

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

Dr. Bonnie C. Nicholson

Committee Chair Department

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Dr. Emily Bullock

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Dr. Jamie Aten

Committee Member 4

Dr. James T. Johnson

Abstract

The experience of living through Hurricane Katrina and the resulting losses incurred from the storm have had lasting effects on residents of the United States Gulf Coast. One way in which survivors of Hurricane Katrina have attempted to cope with the resulting stress of such loss is through religious means. The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of resource loss on the resulting stress reactions for survivors, particularly in light of the impact religiosity, religious social support, and religious coping have on long-term stress responses to the disaster. Literature shows that these religious factors have been found to offer positive and negative influences on the recovery process. It was proposed that positive religious coping, positive religious social support, and greater religiosity would mediate a relationship between resource loss and PTSD symptoms, resulting in decreased PTSD symptoms. The hypotheses for mediation were not supported. It was also proposed that negative religious coping, negative religious social support, and resource loss would predict increased levels of PTSD symptoms. These relationships were confirmed, implying the need to combat resource loss, negative religious coping, and negative religious social support following a natural disaster. Importantly, these results were found over four years after the incident of Hurricane Katrina, showing that the traumatic stress incurred from such an experience can have long-term effects on mental health.

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