OBJECTIVE: To assess the influence of spiritual well-being in mental health of college students. METHODS: It was interviewed 464 medical and law students of Pelotas, Brazil. Data collection was carried out in groups in the school classroom, 43 absent students were not interviewed and represented a loss of 9.3% of the sample. It was used a self-reported questionnaire with three instruments: 1) Spiritual Well-Being Scale (SWBS), 2) SRQ-20, and 3) a precoded questionnaire with questions on sociodemographic data, religious/spiritual practices, and stressful life events. Statistical analysis was performed using Chi-square test and logistic regression. RESULTS: Most of the students (80%) declared that they had a spiritual belief and/or religious denomination. The mean score of spiritual well-being was 90.4 with scores 45.6 and 45.1 in the existential and religious subscales, respectively. SWBS showed an association with religious practices, but it was not influenced by sociodemographic and cultural variables. Subjects presenting low and moderate spiritual well-being showed a doubled risk of presenting minor psychiatric disorders (MPD) (OR=0.42; 95%CI: 0.22-0.85). Subjects presenting low or moderate existential well-being showed almost five times more MPD (OR=0.19; 95%CI: 0.08-0.45). CONCLUSIONS: The study reveals spiritual well-being as a protection factor for minor psychiatric disorders, and that the results were mostly due to the Existential Well-Being subscale.
Mental health; Religion and medicine; Spirituality; Students; Cross-sectional studies; Socioeconomic factors