Coping Self-Efficacy Among Religiously Involved Black Women: An Exploratory Study




Johnson, Robin M., “Coping Self-Efficacy Among Religiously Involved Black Women: An Exploratory Study,” Scholar@Simmons, accessed March 31, 2020,


Coping Self-Efficacy Among Religiously Involved Black Women: An Exploratory Study


Johnson, Robin M.




Black women regularly face stressors which are complex, oppressive, and involve the interlocking effects of race, gender, and social class. Chronic exposure to these stressors poses a significant threat to the psychological and physical well-being of Black women, and may have the cumulative effect of weakening their confidence and coping self-efficacy over time. Coping self-efficacy, an individual’s beliefs in their ability to overcome stress, is recognized as an important cognitive appraisal with critical implications for determining coping behaviors and outcomes. The purpose of this inductive, qualitative study was to explore how religious involvement, and the Black church tradition, helps Black women to develop and sustain coping self-efficacy in the face of oppressive stressors.

Focus group interviews with 32 religiously-involved Black women ages 24-75 were conducted to explore the relationship between stress, coping self-efficacy, and religious involvement. The participants were drawn from eight historically Black churches within a large, metropolitan area in the Northeast region. Using an exploratory design with grounded theory data analysis methods, this dissertation study yielded the following major themes: 1) I Have To Build; 2) The Bottom Line; 3) God Is Connected To Our Struggle; 4) It’s In My Genes; 5) I Can’t Do This Alone; 6) His Track Record; 7) Knowing Sunday’s Going To Come; and 8) Help Me Journey Through. Combined these themes provide a culture-specific, mid-range theory of coping self-efficacy for Black women.

This study offers clinical social workers a useful framework for understanding the unique stress experience of Black women; the impact of self-efficacy in Black women’s coping; and the necessity of clinicians to develop the skills and competence for spiritually-integrative treatment when working with religiously-involved Black women.


Simmons University (Boston, Mass.)


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Doctoral Dissertations