Loneliness, depression, social support, marital satisfaction and spirituality as experienced by the Southern Baptist clergy wife
AuthorBrackin, Lena Anne
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis was an exploratory study that investigated loneliness, depression, social support, marital satisfaction, and spiritual well-being among clergy wives to examine the levels of these variables present in the lives of these highly stressed women. A questionnaire was sent to 785 wives of ministers ordained and working in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Minnesota and Wisconsin. Scales of measurement included the UCLA Loneliness Scale, an adapted Relational Assessment Scale (RAS), a six item segment of the Social Support Questionnaire (SSQ), the Zung Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS), the Spiritual Well-Being Scale (SWB), and a qualitatively coded statement asking for a recent loneliness experience. The scales were preceded by a short demographic section that included a Likert-type rating of the difficulty of the wife's role as clergy wife and of the husband's role as a minister. Results indicate that clergy wives exhibit higher levels of loneliness than would be expected among happily married women. Overall, they have relatively small social networks, but claim to be highly satisfied with them, a counterintuitive finding. Depression levels for this group are no higher than those found in the general population. As expected, the wives exhibit high levels of spiritual well-being. These variables are highly correlated. A multiple regression analysis produced a model composed of depression, social support network number, social support satisfaction, spiritual well-being, and marital satisfaction that explains 53% of the variance in loneliness, although the last two variables explain only 1% additional variance above and beyond the first three. The findings are congruent with nonscientific and anecdotal evidence that indicate loneliness to be a problem for clergy wives while marital dissatisfaction and depression are rare. The qualitative data support the distinctions of Weiss (1973) that there are two major types of loneliness, emotional and social loneliness. The findings also indicate that loneliness and marital satisfaction do not always co-occur, that loneliness and depression do not always co-occur, that social support satisfaction may not always be interpreted identically by participants and social scientists, and that spiritual well-being should be studied further.
Degree ProgramGraduate College