Religious coping

Religious coping

LASA filenames:

Contact: Arjan Braam


Religious coping refers to the functional role of religion in coping. Religion is seen as a potential resource for consolation and adaptation in times of adversity. Its coping properties are considered five-fold: Coping to gain control, coping to gain comfort, coping to gain closeness to God, coping to gain intimacy with others and coping to achieve life transformation. Especially among older adults, minorities, and individuals facing life-threatening crisis, religion is cited more frequently than other sources of coping (Pargament, Koenig, & Perez, 2000). In addition, individual aspects of religious coping have been associated with favourable outcomes including lower rates of depression (Koenig, Cohen, Blazer, Pieper, & Shelp, 2010), better mental-health status (Koenig, Pargament, & Nielsen, 1998), better physical health (Pargament, Koenig, Tarakeshwar, & Hahn, 2004), and reduced mortality (Oxman, Freeman, & Manheimer, 1995).

Measurement instruments in LASA

Within LASA, religious coping is measured with several abbreviated versions of the Religious Coping Scale (RCOPE) (Pargament, 1995). The RCOPE scale consists of positive and negative religious coping items. The positive items are designed to assess ways of coping where religion offers supportive elements, such as finding meaning in life, emotional support, and felling connected. The negative items, or religious struggle, are used to discharge negative feelings, such as interpretations about punishment or the feeling of being abandoned by God.

In the main interview (3B), the RCOPE scale consisted of 3 items: Two positive items and one negative item. The  answer categories ranged from 0 (never) to 3 (very often). For the migrant questionnaire (MB) there was a translated version available in Turkish, Tarafit, and Moroccan dialect. More information about the translation process and psychometric properties can be found elsewhere (Braam, Schrier, Tuinebreijer, Beekman, Dekker, & de Wit, 2010).

In the spring 2005, a postal questionnaire was administered (right before wave F) among LASA respondents. More information about this study can be found elsewhere (Braam, Schaap-Jonker, Mooi, Ritter, Beekman, & Deeg, 2008). The side study included the 10-item version of the Scales on God Image and Religious Coping (Brief RCOPE). Five positive religious coping items and five negative religious coping items were included. Response categories ranged from 0 (never) to 3 (very often).


LAS3B105 (self-administered questionnaire, in Dutch) / LASMB105 (main interview, in Dutch)

Variable information

LAS3B105 / LASMB105

Availability of information per wave


Religious coping
(rco03, rco05, rco07)

¹ More information about the LASA data collection waves is available here.

*2B=baseline second cohort;
3B=baseline third cohort;
MB=migrants: baseline first cohort

Ma=data collected in main interview;
Sa=data collected in self-administered questionnaire

Previous use in LASA

– As individual items
– As continuous sub-scale of positive and negative items separately

Within LASA religious coping has been examined in the association with late-life depression (Braam, Schaap-Jonker, van der Horst, Steunenberg, Beekman, van Tilburg, & Deeg, 2014), the association with mood (Braam, Schaap-Jonker, Mooi, Ritter, Beekman, & Deeg, 2008), and as moderator in the relation between having limited access to resources and wellbeing (Klokgieters, van Tilburg, Deeg, & Huisman, 2018).


  1. Pargament, K. I., Koenig, H. G., & Perez, L. M. (2000). The many methods of religious coping: Development and initial validation of the RCOPE. Journal of clinical psychology, 56(4), 519-543.
  2. Koenig, H. G., Cohen, H. J., Blazer, D. G., Pieper, C., & Shelp, F. (2010). Religious Coping and Depression Among Elderly, Hospitalized Medically ill. Spiritual Needs & Pastoral Services: Readings in Research, 255.
  3. Koenig, H. G., Pargament, K. I., & Nielsen, J. (1998). Religious coping and health status in medically ill hospitalized older adults. The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 186(9), 513-521.
  4. Pargament, K. I., Koenig, H. G., Tarakeshwar, N., & Hahn, J. (2004). Religious coping methods as predictors of psychological, physical and spiritual outcomes among medically ill elderly patients: A two-year longitudinal study. Journal of health psychology, 9(6), 713-730.
  5. Pargament, K. I., Koenig, H. G., Tarakeshwar, N., & Hahn, J. (2001). Religious struggle as a predictor of mortality among medically ill elderly patients: A 2-year longitudinal study. Archives of internal Medicine, 161(15), 1881-1885.
  6. Braam, A. W., Schrier, A. C., Tuinebreijer, W. C., Beekman, A. T., Dekker, J. J., & de Wit, M. A. (2010). Religious coping and depression in multicultural Amsterdam: A comparison between native Dutch citizens and Turkish, Moroccan and Surinamese/Antillean migrants. Journal of Affective Disorders, 125(1), 269–278.
  7. Braam, A. W., Schaap-Jonker, H., van der Horst, M. H., Steunenberg, B., Beekman, A. T., van Tilburg, W., & Deeg, D. J. (2014). Twelve-year history of late-life depression and subsequent feelings to God. The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 22(11), 1272-1281.
  8. Braam, A. W., Schaap-Jonker, H., Mooi, B., Ritter, D. D., Beekman, A. T., & Deeg, D. J. (2008). God image and mood in old age: Results from a community-based pilot study in the Netherlands. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 11(2), 221-237.
  9. Klokgieters, S. S., van Tilburg, T. G., Deeg, D. J. H., & Huisman, M. (2018). Do religious activities among young-old immigrants act as a buffer against the effect of a lack of resources on well-being? Aging & Mental Health, 7863, 1–8.

Date of last update: January 3, 2019