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Specifying the effects of religion on medical helpseeking: The case of infertility


  • Greil, Arthur
  • McQuillan, Julia
  • Benjamins, Maureen
  • Johnson, David R.
  • Johnson, Katherine M.
  • Heinz, Chelsea R.


Several recent studies have examined the connection between religion and medical service utilization. This relationship is complicated because religiosity may be associated with beliefs that either promote or hinder medical helpseeking. The current study uses structural equation modeling to examine the relationship between religion and fertility-related helpseeking using a probability sample of 2183 infertile women in the United States. We found that, although religiosity is not directly associated with helpseeking for infertility, it is indirectly associated through mediating variables that operate in opposing directions. More specifically, religiosity is associated with greater belief in the importance of motherhood, which in turn is associated with increased likelihood of helpseeking. Religiosity is also associated with greater ethical concerns about infertility treatment, which are associated with decreased likelihood of helpseeking. Additionally, the relationships are not linear throughout the helpseeking process. Thus, the influence of religiosity on infertility helpseeking is indirect and complex. These findings support the growing consensus that religiously-based behaviours and beliefs are associated with levels of health service utilization.

Suggested Citation

  • Greil, Arthur & McQuillan, Julia & Benjamins, Maureen & Johnson, David R. & Johnson, Katherine M. & Heinz, Chelsea R., 2010. "Specifying the effects of religion on medical helpseeking: The case of infertility," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 71(4), pages 734-742, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:71:y:2010:i:4:p:734-742

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Straughan, P. T. & Seow, A., 2000. "Attitudes as barriers in breast screening: a prospective study among Singapore women," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 51(11), pages 1695-1703, December.
    2. Marianne Bitler & Lucie Schmidt, 2006. "Health disparities and infertility: impacts of state-level insurance mandates," Department of Economics Working Papers 2006-04, Department of Economics, Williams College, revised Nov 2006.
    3. White, Lynn & McQuillan, Julia & Greil, Arthur L. & Johnson, David R., 2006. "Infertility: Testing a helpseeking model," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 62(4), pages 1031-1041, February.
    4. Schiller, Preston L. & Levin, Jeffrey S., 1988. "Is there a religious factor in health care utilization?: A review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 27(12), pages 1369-1379, January.
    5. Richard Williams, 2006. "Generalized ordered logit/partial proportional odds models for ordinal dependent variables," Stata Journal, StataCorp LP, vol. 6(1), pages 58-82, March.
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    Cited by:

    1. Shaw, Alison, 2011. "Risk and reproductive decisions: British Pakistani couples' responses to genetic counselling," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(1), pages 111-120, July.


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