Purpose Community violence exposure has profound implications for individuals’ psychological well-being, and yet, little is known about its effects on parents, especially those residing outside Western industrialised regions. In a sample of low-income mothers from urban neighbourhoods in the Philippines, we examined (a) the relation between community violence exposure and psychological distress and (b) the role of religiosity as a moderator of the relation between community violence exposure and psychological distress.
Methods The sample included 116 mothers or mother figures who have an adolescent child between the ages of 12 and 18. Trained researchers travelled to community centres close to the mothers’ homes in three urban neighbourhoods in Manila, and conducted structured one-on-one interviews with mothers. Mothers reported on the frequency of their past-year exposure to community violence (e.g., been attacked with a weapon, seen someone mugged), psychological distress (depression, anxiety, and stress), and religious involvement.
Results Hierarchical regression analyses showed that community violence exposure was associated with higher levels of psychological distress (B=0.27, SE=0.07, p=0.001), after controlling for demographic and socioeconomic variables. There was a significant interaction between community violence exposure and religiosity (B=¼.08, SE=0.03, p=0.014), such that community violence exposure was significantly associated with higher psychological distress at low and average levels of religiosity, but this significant relation was nonsignificant at high levels of religiosity.
Conclusions Results suggest that community violence exposure may be detrimental to Filipino mothers’ mental health, and highlight the role of religiosity as a protective factor that could mitigate the negative effects of community violence.
Significance/contributions to injury and violence prevention science Interventions aimed at enhancing Filipino mothers’ psychological health should consider strengthening faith-based institutions in local communities, along with investing in larger-scale efforts to reduce poverty and community violence.
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