Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 68, Issue 3, pp 303–320 | Cite as

The Lived Experience of Religiosity and Stress among Middle-Aged Vietnamese American Catholic Immigrants

  • Yen K. Le
  • Jill L. SnodgrassEmail author


Based on findings from an interpretative phenomenological study, this article reports the lived experiences of religiosity and stress among six middle-aged Vietnamese-born American Catholic immigrants. The findings indicate how midlife is defined; types of midlife stressors; how participants coped with midlife stressors; religious strategies for coping with midlife stressors; and wisdom related to midlife. Implications for both clinical and congregational practice with Vietnamese American Catholic immigrants are outlined and include insights regarding how religious beliefs and practices can promote healthy coping with midlife stressors and facilitate resilience. Clinical implications and directions for future research are discussed.


Religiosity Stress Spirituality Coping Immigrants Midlife 



  1. Baetz, M., & Toews, J. (2009). Clinical implications of research on religion, spirituality, and mental health. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry/La Revue Canadienne de Psychiatrie, 54(5), 292–301 Scholar
  2. Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. L. (2008). Basics of qualitative research (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  3. Deeg, D. J. H. (2005). The development of physical and mental health from late midlife to early old age. In S. L. Willis & M. Martin (Eds.), Middle adulthood (pp. 209–242). Thousand Oaks: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Erikson, E. H. (1980). Identity and the life cycle. New York: W. W. Norton & Co..Google Scholar
  5. Fallot, R. (2007). Spirituality and religion in recovery: Some current issues. Psychosocial Rehabilitation Journal, 30(4), 261–270. Scholar
  6. Finke, M. S., Huston, S. J., & Sharpe, D. L. (2005). Balance sheets of early boomers: Are they different from pre-boomers? Journal of Family and Economic Issues, 27, 542–561. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fowler, C. G., & Leigh-Paffenroth, W. B. (2007). Hearing. In J. E. Birren (Ed.), Encyclopedia of gerontology (2nd ed., pp. 662–671). San Diego: Academic Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gillum, R. F., & Ingram, D. D. (2006). Frequency of attendance at religious services, hypertension, and blood pressure: The third National Health and nutrition examination survey. Psychosomatic Medicine, 68(3), 382–385. Scholar
  9. Golafshani, N. (2003). Understanding reliability and validity in qualitative research. The Qualitative Report, 8, 597–607–4/golafshani.pdf.Google Scholar
  10. Hoeffel, E. M., Rastogi, S., Ouk Kim, M., & Shahid, H. (2012). The Asian population: 2010 Census brief. United States Census Bureau. Accessed 21 June 2018
  11. Kail, R., & Cavanaugh, J. (2004). Human development: A life-span view (3rd ed.). Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  12. Koenig, H. G. (2008). Concerns about measuring “spirituality” in research. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 196(5), 349–355. Scholar
  13. Krause, N., & Hayward, R. D. (2014). Religious involvement, practical wisdom, and self-rated health. Journal of Aging and Health, 26(4), 540–558. Scholar
  14. Lachman, M. E. (2004). Development in midlife. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 305–331. Scholar
  15. Lachman, M. E., Teshale, S., & Agrigoroaei, S. (2015). Midlife as a pivotal period in the life course: Balancing growth and decline at the crossroads of youth and old age. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 39(1), 20–31. Scholar
  16. Le, Y. (2015, Spring). Spiritual and religious development at midlife. Human Development, 36(3), 36–51.
  17. Levin, J., Chatters, L. M., & Taylor, R. J. (2011). Theory in religion, aging, and health: An overview. Journal of Religion and Health, 50(2), 389–406. Scholar
  18. Linley, P. A., & Joseph, S. (2004). Positive change following trauma and adversity: A review. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 17(1), 11–21 Scholar
  19. Masters, K. S., & Hooker, S. A. (2013). Religion, spirituality, and health. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (2nd ed., pp. 519–539). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  20. Migration Information Source. (2016). Vietnamese immigrants in the United States. Accessed 21 June 2018
  21. Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Thousand Oaks: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. National Council on Aging. (2000). Myths and realities: Survey results. Washington, DC: Author.Google Scholar
  23. Ninh, T. H. (2014). Colored faith: Vietnamese American Catholics struggle for equality within their multicultural church. Amerasia Journal, 40(1), 80–96. Scholar
  24. Obaid, F. (2013). Mid life career stress (doctoral dissertation, Aligarh Muslim University). Accessed 21 June 2018
  25. Pageon, H., Zucchi, H., Rousset, F., Monnier, V. M., & Asselineau, D. (2014). Skin aging by glycation: Lessons from the reconstructed skin model. Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine, 52(1), 169–174. Scholar
  26. Paoli, A., Pacelli, Q. F., Moro, T., Marcolin, G., Neri, M., Battaglia, G., ... & Bianco, A. (2013). Effects of high-intensity circuit training, low-intensity circuit training and endurance training on blood pressure and lipoproteins in middle-aged overweight men. Lipids in Health and Disease, 12(1), 1–8.
  27. Pargament, K. I. (2001). The psychology of religion and coping: Theory, research, practice. New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  28. Pargament, K. I., Smith, B. W., Koenig, H. G., & Perez, L. (1998). Patterns of positive and negative religious coping with major life stressors. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 37, 710–724. Scholar
  29. Pargament, K. I., Koenig, H. G., Tarakeshwar, N., & Hahn, J. (2001). Religious struggle as a predictor of mortality among medically ill elderly patients: A 2-years longitudinal study. Archives of Internal Medicine, 161(15), 1881–1885. Scholar
  30. Park, C. L., & Slattery, J. (2013). Religiousness/spirituality and mental health. In R. F. Paloutzian & C. L. Park (Eds.), Handbook of the psychology of religion and spirituality (2nd ed., pp. 540–559). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  31. Pew Research Center. (2012). Asian American: A mosaic of faith. Accessed 21 June 2018
  32. Phan, P. C. (2005). Vietnamese-American Catholics. New York: Paulist Press.Google Scholar
  33. Powell, L. H., Shahabi, L., & Thoresen, C. E. (2003). Religion and spirituality: Linkages to physical health. American Psychologist, 58(1), 36–52.
  34. Robinson, O. C., & Wright, G. R. T. (2013). The prevalence, types and perceived outcomes of crisis episodes in early adulthood and midlife: A structured retrospective-autobiographical study. International Journal of Behavioral Development, 37, 407–416. Scholar
  35. Saha, A., & Ahuja, S. (2017). Critical existential thinking, search for meaning and life satisfaction. Journal of Psychosocial Research, 12(1), 187–195–1926520170/critical-existential-thinking-search-for-meaning.Google Scholar
  36. Santrock, J. W. (2015). Life-span development (15th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  37. Smith, J. A., Flowers, P., & Larkin, M. (2009). Interpretative phenomenological analysis: Theory, method and research. Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
  38. U.S. Census Bureau. (2015) Comparative demographic estimates: 2015 American community survey 1-year estimates. Accessed 21 June 2018
  39. Weaver, Y. (2009). Mid-life—Aa time of crisis or new possibilities? Existential Analysis, 20(1), 69–79 Scholar
  40. Wethington, E. (2000). Expecting stress: Americans and the “midlife crisis”. Motivation and Emotion, 24(2), 85–103. Scholar
  41. Williams, D. R., & Sternthal, M. J. (2007). Spirituality, religion and health: Evidence and research directions. Medical Journal of Australia, 186(10), S47–S50 Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Pastoral Counseling and Spiritual CareLoyola University MarylandColumbiaUSA

Personalised recommendations