Purpose: To prospectively examine whether personal agency beliefs and direct coping mediate the association between spirituality and depressive symptoms in a school-based sample of adolescents, and whether gender, race, or grade level moderate this model. Method: Students (N = 1096) from sixth through ninth grades in a northeastern public school system were administered self-report instruments in group format at baseline, 6-month follow-up, and 1-year follow-up. Demographic variables and constructs of spirituality, personal agency, direct coping, and depressive symptoms were assessed. Results: Structural equation modeling was used to examine the longitudinal associations among the constructs while controlling for socioeconomic status and baseline depressive symptoms. For the total sample, the model predicted 21% of the variance in depressive symptoms over 1 year. The model was moderated by gender but not by race or grade level. The model explained 28% of the variance in depressive symptoms for girls and 16% of the variance in depressive symptoms for boys. Moreover, there was an indirect effect of spirituality on depressive symptoms for girls but not for boys. Conclusion: These results suggest mechanisms by which spirituality may maintain lower levels of depressive symptoms among adolescent girls during periods of transition to middle and high school.
- Coping behavior
- Personal agency