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A multivariate study of religiosity and obsessive compulsive symptoms : implications for clinical psychology theory and practice

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posted on 01.03.2017, 00:34 authored by Mohammad Asif, Manal
An array of past religiosity-OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) studies were conducted, which yielded results with significant clinical implications. Most of these previous studies implied for a non-religious approach for OCD management. In the present study, an innovative and more rigorous empirical approach was applied for examining the religiosity-OCS (obsessive-compulsive symptoms) relationship. Firstly, religiosity level was examined along with parental authority styles and personality traits as predictors of religious (scrupulosity) and non-religious OCS. Secondly, three groups, two high-religiosity groups and one low-religiosity group, were “equally exposed” to subjects identified as OCD themes during their degree coursework studies. Thirdly, scales for both general and religious OCS were used to measure the outcome variables. The results of the present study and their clinical implications were then compared with those of past studies. The relationship of the three predictors with religious and non-religious OCS were examined in a sample of 344 university students, which included 117 high-religiosity exposed Muslim participants (religious studies degree students); 88 high-religiosity exposed Christian participants (religious studies degree students); 89 low-religiosity exposed participants (medical degree students); and 50 low-religiosity, non-exposed participants (Information and Communication Technology degree students). Participants were recruited from four universities and a church in Malaysia; and one Indonesian university (for the high-religiosity Christian group). The Obsessive-Compulsive Inventory-Revised (OCI-R), the Penn Inventory of Scrupulosity (PIOS), the Obsessive Beliefs Questionnaire-44 (OBQ-44), the short-form revised Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQR-S), the Parental Authority Questionnaire (PAQ), the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality (BMMRS), and the Religious OC Symptoms Scale (ROCSS), were used for data collection. While the PIOS was included for the Christian and low-religiosity participants, the 28 item ROCSS was developed for Muslim participants in order to adequately capture their religious OCS. The self-tailored ROCSS demonstrated good psychometric properties. Non-experimental, cross-sectional multivariate, quantitative techniques (e.g., correlation, multiple regressions) were used to investigate the relationships between variables. Obsessive-beliefs were examined as a mediator between the significant relationships found, with findings indicating a mediation effect present. Results demonstrated a significant relationship of personality traits with both religious and non-religious OCS across the four groups. Parental authority styles were also significantly related with religious OCS in the high-religiosity exposed Christian group and low-religiosity non-exposed group; and with non-religious OCS in the high-religiosity exposed Christian and Muslim groups and the low-religiosity exposed group. Religiosity level and non-religious OCS were not significantly associated in the four groups. Results also demonstrated a significant negative relationship between religiosity level and religious OCS in the high-religiosity exposed groups and a significant positive relationship between the two variables in the low-religiosity exposed group. Religiosity was identified as a protective factor against religious OCS in high-religiosity Muslims and Christians. Results of the high-religiosity exposed groups in the present study, which indicated a decrease in religious OCS severity with an increase in religiosity level, had crucial clinical psychology implications, as they supported the adoption of an approach which integrates religious interventions with cognitive behaviour therapy in the management of religious patients with OCD.


Principal supervisor

Karen Jennifer Golden

Additional supervisor 1

Tam Cai Lian

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences (Monash University Malaysia). Psychology

Campus location



Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Medicine Nursing and Health Sciences