Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Clinical Psychology

Department or School/College

Department of Psychology

Committee Co-chair

Gyda Swaney, Daniel Denis

Commitee Members

Kari Harris


University of Montana


Depression is diagnosed at high rates among American Indians (AIs). This study’s goal was to explore possible protective factors against depression. This study investigated the impact of: cultural identity, cultural identity and gender, gender, importance of spirituality, and importance of religion, on endorsement of depressive symptoms. This study also investigated whether participants’ distinguished between religion and spirituality. Participants in this study were AIs 18 years or older (N = 220, females = 132, males = 88). The data was procured from an archival data set, collected at an urban Indian center in 2004. The study data included a demographic questionnaire; the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D; Radloff, 1977) measuring current endorsement of depressive symptoms; The Oetting’s Cultural Identification Scale (OCIS; Oetting, 1993) measuring level of identification with AI culture; and the questions: “How important is religion in your life?” and “How important is spirituality in your life?”

A linear regression analysis produced no statistically significant results for main effect of identification as AI on depression scores, or for a gender-by-identification as AI interaction effect. Independent samples /-tests also revealed no statistically significant differences between gender and depression scores, “importance of religion” and depression scores, or “importance of spirituality” and depression scores. A Spearman’s rank order correlation was carried out between participants’ rating of importance of religion and importance of spirituality. A positive correlation was found (rho = .348, N = 220,/? < .0.01). Post-hoc frequency analyses revealed that 50.5% of the sample endorsed significant depressive symptoms. This may have impacted the predictive aptitude of the independent variables. Post-hoc analyses also revealed that despite the positive correlation between religion and spirituality, there were substantially fewer endorsements of high religion (n = 108) than high spirituality (/? = 170) and that endorsement of high and low religion was almost equally split among participants.

Additional research utilizing different assessment measures of depression, and/or a qualitative method of inquiry might help to distinguish possible causes of the elevated depression scores within this sample. Future research might also focus on clarifying the distinction between religion and spirituality among AI people.



© Copyright 2009 Georgie Victoria Ferguson