Demographic and socioeconomic predictors of religious/spiritual beliefs and behaviours in a prospective cohort study (ALSPAC) in Southwest England: Results from the parental generation

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Abstract

Background: We explored associations between possible demographic and socioeconomic causes of religious/spiritual beliefs and behaviours (RSBB) in the parental generation of the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC).

Methods: We used a prospective birth cohort study (ALSPAC) in Southwest England with 14,157 enrolled mothers and 14,154 associated partners. Three RSBB outcome measures collected during pregnancy were examined: religious belief (belief in God/a divine power; yes/not sure/no), religious affiliation (Christian/none/other) and religious attendance (frequency of attendance at a place of worship). Multiple demographic and socioeconomic exposures were assessed (23 in mothers and 22 in partners). We explored age-adjusted associations between each exposure and outcome using multinomial regression, in addition to exposure-age interactions.

Results: Many demographic and socioeconomic factors were associated with RSBB outcomes, including age, ethnicity, marital status, education, income and deprivation. Overall, higher socioeconomic position was associated with increased levels of RSBB, particularly regarding religious attendance. For instance, compared to mothers with the lowest level of educational attainment, a degree-level education was associated with six-fold increase in the relative risk ratio of religious attendance at least once a week, relative to not attending at all (RRR=5.90; 95% CI=[4.44; 7.86]). The magnitude of these associations often varied by outcome, e.g., income was associated with religious attendance, but not religious affiliation. Although results were demographically and socially patterned, overall effect sizes were relatively small, with a largest pseudo-R2 value of 2.4%. Patterns of association were similar for both mothers and partners.

Conclusion: These findings demonstrate that numerous demographic and socioeconomic factors are associated with RSBB in this population. While additional work is needed to assess whether any of these associations are causal, this descriptive paper can help inform future studies using this data by considering appropriate confounders and thus attempt to minimise bias that confounding may introduce.
Original languageEnglish
Article number159
JournalWellcome Open Research
Volume7
DOIs
Publication statusSubmitted - 25 May 2022

Structured keywords

  • ALSPAC

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