Date of Award

January 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Elizabeth Tyree


Introduction: While religiosity (e.g. prayer, attending church) has been reported to be related to health behaviors in pregnant women, whether religiosity was related to health-promoting behaviors in pregnant women at Pregnancy Resource Centers (PRC) had not been previously studied. The purpose of this research study was to explore the relationship between religiosity and health-promoting behaviors of pregnant women at PRC. PRC are Christian community-based centers with a focus on meeting needs of pregnant women.

Methods: Pender’s Health Promotion Model guided this descriptive correlational study. A consecutive sample included pregnant women who knew they were pregnant at least two months, could read/write English, and visited PRC in eastern Pennsylvania. Pregnant women completed a self-report survey that examined religiosity, demographics, pregnancy-related variables, services received at PRC, and health-promoting behaviors. Univariate and multivariate analyses were utilized to determine factors related to health-promoting behaviors and whether religiosity explained any variance above and beyond what was explained by other significant variables.

Results: Pregnant women at PRC reported they “sometimes” or “often” engaged in health-promoting behaviors (M = 2.73, SD = .45). Pregnant women of Hispanic ethnicity reported fewer health-promoting behaviors than non-Hispanic pregnant women (t (84) = 2.13, p < .036). Pregnant women who attended classes at PRC reported more frequent health-promoting behaviors than those who did not attend classes (t (84) = -2.14, p = .035). Pregnancy intention was not significantly related to health-promoting behaviors. In separate multiple linear regressions, organized religiosity, intrinsic religiosity (β’s = .21), non-organized religiosity, and satisfaction with surrender to God (β’s = .23) were significant predictors and explained additional variance in health-promoting behaviors above and beyond what Hispanic ethnicity and attending classes at the PRC explained in pregnant women at PRC (p < .05).

Implications: While there are variations in levels of religiosity of the pregnant women who attend PRC, higher levels of religiosity did have a significant relationship with more frequent health-promoting behaviors in this sample of pregnant women. Collaboration within public and private organizations, including PRC, to provide holistic care for pregnant women could offer a valuable approach to care of pregnant women, including some women who report unintended pregnancies.