The relationship between religiosity, spirituality, and obsessive-compulsive disorder
Some OCD researchers have suggested that highly religious individuals may be predisposed toward developing obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but results regarding the relationship between religiosity and OCD symptoms are mixed. Notable weaknesses in the literature include the frequent use of measures with unknown psychometric properties that do not differentiate between various facets of religiosity (e.g., fundamentalism, spirituality, etc.), study of a limited range of religious affiliations, and predominant use of undergraduate student samples. Other research has demonstrated positive benefits of religiosity/spirituality for mental health. The current study attempted to clarify the relationship between OCD symptoms/cognitions and religiosity/spirituality using multidimensional measures of religiosity/spirituality. Seven hundred and forty-six nonclinical (students and community members) and 24 clinical participants (with a principal diagnosis of OCD) from a wide range of religious affiliations completed questionnaires assessing religiosity/spirituality and OCD symptoms/cognitions. In both samples, Obsessive-compulsive (OC) symptoms were either not significantly related or significantly, negatively related to religiosity and spirituality, but religious crisis was significantly, positively related to OC symptoms. In the nonclinical group, none of the facets of spirituality moderated the relationships between religiosity and fundamentalism or moral TAF. All facets of spirituality significantly moderated the relationship between religiosity and scrupulosity (all ps < .02), but additional variance explained was trivial (all ΔR2 < .004). In the clinical sample, only the universality facet of spirituality (i.e., the belief that the universe is ordered and all of humanity is connected) significantly moderated the relationship between religiosity and fundamentalism (t = -5.60, p < .001, 95% CI = -.53 to -.24, ΔR2 = .17) and between religiosity and moral thought-action fusion (moral TAF; t = -2.14, p = .04, 95% CI = -.38 to -.005, ΔR2 = .184). High religiosity was only associated with high fundamentalism or moral TAF when universality was low. None of the facets of spirituality significantly moderated the relationship between religiosity and scrupulosity (all ps = ns, all ΔR2 < .001). Religiosity and spirituality appear to be unrelated or negatively related to OC symptoms. However, religious individuals with OCD who experience religious crisis may benefit from psychoeducation/consultation with religious professionals to address these difficulties.