Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Jean Rhodes

Second Advisor

Abbey Eisenhower

Third Advisor

Sarah Lowe


Natural disasters are increasing with regards to both frequency and severity (CRED & UNDRR, 2015; NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI), 2020). Exposure to natural disasters, in turn, increases the likelihood for the development of adverse mental and physical health outcomes (Augustinavicius et al., 2021). Religion and spirituality is an accessible form of coping that many people turn to during and after natural disasters, and may be especially valuable to those who face barriers to accessing mental health treatment or may not feel served by formal mental health institutions (Abu-Raiya & Pargament, 2015; Bryant-Davis & Wong, 2013). However, there are distinctions between positive religious coping (PRC) and negative religious coping (NRC) both conceptually and in their relation to mental health outcomes (Pargament, Feuille, & Burdzy, 2011). This study utilized data from the Resilience in Survivors of Katrina (RISK) project, an ongoing longitudinal study of low-income, female, primarily Black Hurricane Katrina survivors, and drew on four waves of data from before the hurricane in 2005 through 2018 to explore the longitudinal relationship between religious coping and mental and physical health outcomes. Hierarchical linear regression analyses revealed that NRC was a significant predictor of post-traumatic stress, b = .14, p < .05, and general psychological distress, b = .11, p = .05, whereas PRC was a significant predictor of post-traumatic growth, b = .34, p < .001. Hierarchical logistic regression analyses revealed no significant associations between religious coping style and physical health outcomes. Better understanding the ways in which religious coping is associated with later mental and physical health is important for both clinicians and religious leaders to understand the coping processes of those they serve, especially during times of severe distress such as in the wake of a natural disaster.