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International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health

Editor-in-Chief: Merrick, Joav

Editorial Board: Birch, Diana ML / Blum, Robert W. / Greydanus, MD, Dr. HC (Athens), Donald E. / Hardoff, Daniel / Kerr, Mike / Levy, Howard B / Morad, Mohammed / Omar, Hatim A. / de Paul, Joaquin / Rydelius, Per-Anders / Shek, Daniel T.L. / Sher, Leo / Silber, Tomas J. / Towns, Susan / Urkin, Jacob / Verhofstadt-Deneve, Leni / Zeltzer, Lonnie / Tenenbaum, Ariel

CiteScore 2018: 0.79

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Spiritual belief and its link with potentially addictive behaviors in a youth sample in Switzerland

Fei ChenORCID iD: http://orcid.org/0000-0003-2077-3812 / André Berchtold / Yara Barrense-Dias
  • Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), Lausanne University Hospital, Lausanne 1010, Switzerland
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
/ Joan-Carles Suris
  • Corresponding author
  • Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP), Lausanne University Hospital, Route de la Corniche 10, Lausanne 1010, Switzerland, Phone: +41 213 147 375, Fax: +41 213 147 373
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-11-29 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijamh-2018-0070



Earlier studies suggested a positive impact of spirituality on addictive disorders, but this effect has rarely been studied in a large adolescent and young adult population.


To examine the association between spiritual beliefs (general belief, the supporting role of spiritual belief, the critical role of spiritual belief) and potentially addictive behaviors (tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and other illegal drugs, excessive Internet use and gambling).


Data were collected using online self-report questionnaires among a sample of 5179 adolescents and young adults aged 15–24 years in post-mandatory education in Switzerland. Statistical analysis at bivariate and multivariate level was performed.


At the bivariate level, spiritual beliefs were linked to a lower risk of tobacco smoking, alcohol misuse and cannabis use as well as an increased risk of Internet overuse and gambling. However, at the multivariate level, controlling for age, gender, language and place of birth, significant associations were found only for alcohol misuse, Internet overuse and gambling.


The study provides evidence that spiritual belief could protect youth from the risk of alcohol misuse but could also increase the risk of excessive Internet use and gambling. The role of spiritual beliefs in preventing or motivating these problematic behaviors is of great interest for adolescent health care providers and should be considered in the light of the separation-individuation process and transition from adolescence to adulthood.

Keywords: addictive behaviors; spiritual belief; youth


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About the article

Received: 2018-04-06

Accepted: 2018-06-05

Published Online: 2018-11-29

Conflict of interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Citation Information: International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health, 20180070, ISSN (Online) 2191-0278, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijamh-2018-0070.

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