Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in Social Science & Medicine (2010); doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.04.033 Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. Used by permission.


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 behaviors and beliefs are associated with levels of health service utilization.

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