Domains of spirituality and their importance to the health of 75 533 adolescents in 12 countries
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AbstractSpirituality is considered by many to be an important domain of health. It is sometimes measured in four domains of connections: to oneself, to others, to nature and to the transcendent. While the importance of such connections is recognized as a fundamental human right for children, few interna- tional studies have studied their impacts on the health and well-being of young people. In this study of young people conducted over 4 years in 12 countries, we examined the perceived importance of each of four spiritual health domains and how they each related to positive mental health status in >75 000 adolescents. ‘Connections to self’ were consistently viewed as most important among boys and girls in all 12 countries. Fostering of strong connections to self, which involves cultivating a sense of meaning, purpose and joy in the lives of adolescents, appears most fundamental to achieving men- tal health and well-being. This may be achieved directly through a focus on connections to self, or in- directly by focusing on the indirect effects of the other three domains on mental health. This opens up many opportunities for health promotion in child populations, internationally.