Religious & social influences on wellbeing in college students – Summary

Purpose: To evaluate the influence of religious beliefs on general well-being in university students.  Methods: A survey conducted at a large, southeastern public university including: evangelicals, social Christians, Roman Catholics, religious non-Christians and atheist/agnostics. Results: 247 students participated. All groups noted good well-being with evangelicals reporting the highest levels (P=0.004). All groups perceived well-being was enhanced by: good health, university coursework, family/friends, a love interest, and career goals. Evangelicals who adhered to their faith showed better wellbeing than less adherent (P<0.0001). Feelings of guilt differed between groups with 40% of atheist/agnostics noting strong guilt; while Catholics and evangelicals indicating mild guilt (P=0.02). While all groups found hope in the future in a committed relationship or family, evangelicals (80%) and Roman Catholics (60%) more likely took hope (admittance to heaven) in being saved by grace through Jesus Christ (P<0.0001).  Conclusion: College students demonstrate good well-being with evangelicals reporting the highest levels. Overall well-being and hope generally come from maintaining good health, relationships with family and friends as well as career pursuits. Evangelicals especially are distinctive in their relationship with God through grace.