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The Association Between Religious Attitude and Optimism in Students of Nursing and Paramedicine Faculty of Jahrom University

1 Mental Health Department, Jahrom University of Medical Sciences, Jahrom, IR Iran
*Corresponding author: Leyli Mosallanejad, Jahrom University of Medical Sciences, Motahari Avenue, Jahrom, P.O. Box: 74148, IR Iran. Tel: +98-9177920813, E-mail:
Islamic Lifestyle Centered on Health. 2013 December; 1(4): e13914 , DOI: 10.5812/ilch.13914
Article Type: Research Article; Received: Jul 30, 2013; Accepted: Aug 20, 2013; epub: Dec 20, 2013; ppub: Dec 2013


Background;: Religion as one of the most important factors animates human values, and individual behaviors and experiences. Therefore, religion and its effects in psychology have been among investigation issues in social science for a century.

Objectives: This study was performed to assess the association between religious attitude and optimism in students of Nursing and Paramedicine Faculty of Jahrom University of Medical Sciences.

Materials and Methods: This was a descriptive analytic study. Study population was 370 students selected by census sampling from all students of this faculty. Gathering data tools were religious attitude questionnaire (Golriz and Brahani 1974) and life orientation test questionnaire (LOT-R).

Results: There was a meaningful association between religious attitude and optimism (P = 0.03, r = 0.62). Religious attitude and optimism were different in both genders based on the field of study.

Conclusions: It is suggested to consider practical programs to maintain religious believes in students.

Keywords: Religion; Nurseries; Para Medicine Students; Optimism

1. Background

Religious in its Latin root means “combining together” and being religious means to consent systematized religious beliefs and behaviors. Religious as one of the important factors, animates the human values, behaviors and experiences (1). Therefore, it is up to a century that religious and its effects in psychology are among investigated issues in social science (2). For instance, Freud believes that religious and faith form the worldview, enliven the life, encompass life goal and lessen psychological disorders (3).

In addition, there is wonderful power in faith in god, which gives a spiritual power to human, helps him in life and affects his thoughts positively (4). Behaviors such as worship and reliance offer tranquility by providing hope and encouraging positive views, because hope to god helps in difficult circumstances, providing with spiritual support and a sense of belonging to a superior power are all among ways which religious people employ to undergo less stress and anxiety (5). Optimism as a positive human characteristic has gained lots of attention in the last two decades and could be one of the defensive aspects of individual model. Optimism refers to convergence in which positive outcomes are expected and these outcomes are considered as constant, general and internal factors (6). In other words, optimism is an approach or behavior related to social or non-social future, and the inspector picks its benefits or satisfying parts for himself according to social acceptance. Nevertheless, optimism is not seeming positive thinking, but optimists are able to solve the problems and act more successfully against difficulties. They would not be passive when facing with difficulties, go on with scheduling and have a positive approach; hence, optimism together with trying and problem solving are necessary for success, popularity, health and even longer life and elimination of harmful situations (7, 8). Therefore, if human concepts come together with a positive view of himself and positive thinking for future, there become more benefits in managing tides of life and handling stress-inducing incidents and threats, leading to more positive outcomes (6).

Psychiatrists believe that a half of variables associated with mental health of a mature human are determined by religious believes (9). Religion as a part of confronting process, is able to influence on the evaluation of individual from threatening element and redefining the problem effectively. Moreover, religion can help individual to overcome his emotions in stressful circumstances and effort hopefully. Religion even affects individual interpretations from the outcomes of life incidents (10). In this regard, Sethi and Seligman (1993) assessed optimism and religious beliefs. Their results indicated that those with a religious fundamentalism are more optimistic than those religious moderators and liberals (2). Shahni yeylagh and colleagues (1994) assessed the causative relationship between religious beliefs, optimism, mental health and physical health. Their results indicated that associations between religious beliefs and optimism, optimism and mental health and mental health and physical health are meaningful (6). Although Asgari performed a study on 200 students and showed meaningful associations between optimism and spiritual heath, and spiritual beliefs and spiritual health (4).

2. Objectives

As mentioned above, the present investigation aimed to evaluate the association between religious beliefs and optimism in Nursing and Paramedicine Faculties of Jahrom University of Medical Sciences.

3. Materials and Methods

In this descriptive analytic study, students of Nursery and Para-medicine faculty including 370 nursing, anesthesiology and operating room technicians were recruited by census method. Data was gathered by using a three-part questionnaire; in the first part, demographic characteristics, field of study and other students’ information; in the second part religious beliefs (Religious Attitude Questionnaire, Golriz and Boraheni 1974) were asked. Religious Attitude Questionnaire includes 25 questions with a five Likert scale (0 to 4). Total score of this questionnaire is 100. Answers included “completely agree”, “agree”, “relatively agree”, “no idea”, and “disagree”. Seventy six to 100 indicated a perfect religious attitude, 51 to 75 as good attitude, 26 to 50 as average, and 25 and lower, as low attitude. The study validity was approved by a correlation coefficient of 0.80 by using Allport-Vernon-Lindzey test. The known group method was used to assess the questionnaire reliability, and there was a meaningful difference between the means of the two religious and normal groups, also the results showed differences between the two groups. This questionnaire was re-evaluated in the recent years. The questionnaire reliability was 0.63 by using spearman-brown method and its validity was 0.248. The third part of the questionnaire included some questions about optimism (Life Orientation Test, LOT-R). This test (Scheier, M. F., Carver, C. S., and Bridges 1994) is the short version which assesses individual differences regarding optimism and pessimism; for instance, “in uncertain times I always expect the best thing”. Participants were asked to answer each question by a five Likert scale including 0 (completely disagree) to four (completely agree). This scale included three items about optimism, three items about pessimism and four scattered items (perverted items about another test, which was not the goal of this study, and just applied to minimize sensitivity regarding the main items). After reversing the score of pessimism, the overall score of optimism was calculated by adding optimism and pessimism scores. Higher scores (LOT-R) indicates more attitude to positive results rather than negative ones. Scheier and Carver (1985) found an alpha Cronbach of 76% and test-retest reliability of 79% (by a 4-week interval) for a group of students. For evaluating the convergence validity score in Iran, the correlation coefficient of LOT-R was assessed by five factors of hopeless scale (Goodarzi 2002). Alpha Cronbach for the present test was 60%.

The questionnaire was dispersed after a briefing meeting and providing adequate information to students willing to participate in the study, and was collected after filling it. Gathered data was analyzed using descriptive statistical tests including frequency, mean and standard deviation by using SPSS.

4. Results

From 288 who completed the questionnaire, 112 (38.9%) were male and 176 (61.1%) were female; 47.6% were nursing students, 22.6% were operating room technicians, 23.9% were anesthesiology technicians and the others were emergency students with 5.9%; 12.5% were married and 85.8% were single. Our results showed that religious attitude of most students was moderate (83.9%) and was good for 32 (12.5%), these results are presented below (Table 1). The results of this study indicated that most students had a good level of optimism (165, 60.7%) (Table 2).

Table 1.
Frequency Distribution of Religious Attitude Among Students

Table 2.
Frequency Distribution of Optimism in Students

There was a meaningful difference between religious attitude and age by calculating the correlation coefficient (r = 0.43, P = 0.04). Furthermore, association between religious attitude and gender (r = 0.53, P = 0.02), optimism and gender (r = 0.69, P = 0.01), and marriage and religious attitude (r = 0.67, P = 0.01) were meaningful. In addition a meaningful association was observed between religious attitude and optimism (r = 0.62, P = 0.03) (Table 3).

Table 3.
Frequency of Study Variables Based on Demographic Factors a

5. Discussion

The aim of this study was to assess the association between religious attitude and optimism in students of Jahrom University of Medical Sciences. Based on the results, there was a meaningful association between religious attitude and optimism. Our results were consistent with Sethi and Seligman (2), Kilpatrick and colleagues (11), Asgari and colleagues (4), Atari and colleagues (12), Shahni yeylagh and colleagues (6) who found a positive and meaningful association between the two variables. To define this it can be said that optimism provides a positive worldview, which animates the life; and this is the meaningfulness together with more hope and positive looking. Such a positive feeling can confront with daily life tensions. Religious beliefs, supporting and taking care of others and encouraging, verify personality characteristics such as altruism, kindness, and forgiveness, which these behaviors increase the coordination within the societies. It is of paramount importance that in no study non-religious people were more optimism than religious individuals (3). While it has been focused on positive association of religious with variables including happiness (13-16), mental health (17-19), quality of life and life satisfaction (20, 21). It should be note that some religions with inappropriate ordinances may play role as excessive restrictive social controlling factors, and be used to excite guilt, shame, fear or wrath and aggression (3).

Meaningful association between age and religious attitude is consistent with the findings of Zekoy and colleagues (22). In Zohor and Tavakoli investigation (9), students of associates degree and bachelor's degree had stronger religious attitude than those of master’s degree and general physicians, this finding is predicted by the complementary process of education and aging and seems to be consistent with this study. Nevertheless, in Sahrayian and colleague study (5), there was a negative association between age and religious attitude, which is not in line with the results of this study. Totally, investigations in this field yielded different results due to close age ranges of students, also sampling can be effective.

In addition, there was a statistically meaningful association between gender and religious attitude, which is consistent with the results of Zohor and Tavakoli (9) and Zekoy and colleague (22), but the difference was that in our study male students had a stronger spiritual attitude compared to females, while in the two mentioned studies, females attitude was more. Although comparing optimism of students of nursing, anesthesiology technicians, operating room technicians, and emergency students revealed meaningful differences, which was less focused in previous investigations.


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Table 1.

Frequency Distribution of Religious Attitude Among Students

Religious Attitude Frequency (%)
Poor 6 (2.4)
Moderate 214 (83.9)
Good 32 (12.5)
Perfect 3 (1.2)
Total 288 (100)

Table 2.

Frequency Distribution of Optimism in Students

Optimism Frequency (%)
Low 1 (0.4)
Moderate 36 (13.2)
Good 156 (60.7)
Perfect 70 (25.7)
total 272 (100)

Table 3.

Frequency of Study Variables Based on Demographic Factors a

Dependent Variable Religious Attitude Optimism
Male 45.4 ± 8.63 28.2 ± 5.44
Female 40.33 ± 9.97 25.68 ± 5.39
T 4.18 3.77
P 0.001 0.001
Field of Study
Nursing 41.86 (10.16) 26.16 (5.66)
Operating room technician 44.90 (7.04) 26.23 (5.77)
Anesthesiology technician 41.45 (11.58) 24.36 (4.7)
Emergency student 45.92 (9.4) 27.25 (4.65)
F 2.21 2.81
P 0.06 0.02
Marital status
Married 42.37 ± 11.86 27.35 ± 4.1
Single 42.10 ± 8.9 26.6 ± 5.7
T 0.15 0.76
P 0.90 0.33
a Data are presented as mean ± SD or No. (%).