» Spirituality, Health and Coping: Aspects of Well-Being

Lisa Sparks BookThis project involves an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Wilkinson College, Crean School of Health and Life Sciences, Schmid College, and the George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics. A number of factors can influence person’s health and well-being. These can include the physical geography or space where a person lives, their degree of spirituality and faith and the nature of the social connections. The connection between spirituality/religion and health is a growing area of research.  

As individuals we all encounter crisis at some point. The social networks that people have with one another (both in person and online), mediate the ability to cope and deal with crisis.  In essence, social networks, religion spirituality offer support to an individual as they face life’s challenges. Our research team has created an interdisciplinary framework to examine the connections between spirituality, health and individual well-being. We believe that spirituality and social networks serve as a positive influence on a person’s well-being. As a part of this research have designed and will administer a survey addressing the degree of a person’s spirituality, the nature of their social connectedness and the quality of their health. This survey is done in collaboration and support from the leadership from Wilkinson College.

  • Members
  • Research projects
  • Grants/funding
  • Student projects
  • Dr. Christopher Bader, Sociology, Wilkinson College & Economics, George L. Argyros School of Business and Economics
    Christopher Bader is a Professor of Sociology, a board member of IRES and a board member of ASREC. He was principal investigator of the first two waves of the Baylor Religion Survey, a nationwide survey of US religious beliefs, and is Associate Director of the Association of Religion Data Archives (ARDA), an online archive of religion survey data funded by the Templeton Foundation and Lilly Foundation and supported by Penn State University and Chapman University. To date, he has published 27 articles in journals in the fields of sociology, deviance, criminology, the sociology of religion and education. His first two books America's Four Gods from Oxford University Press and Paranormal America: Ghost Encounters, UFO Sightings, Bigfoot Hunts, and Other Curiosities in Religion and Culture from NYU Press appeared in October, 2010. He currently has several articles and two books in progress.
    Religion, Self Control, and Substance Use
    Countervailing Forces: Religiosity and Paranormal Belief in Italy

    Dr. Lisa Sparks
    Communication Studies, Wilkinson College & Health and Strategic Communications, Crean School of Health and Life Sciences
    Lisa Sparks is the Director of Graduate Studies for the M.S. in Health and Strategic Communication, as well as Foster and Mary McGaw endowed Professor in Behavioral Sciences. Dr. Sparks also serves as a full member of the Chao Family/NCI Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of California, Irvine in the School of Medicine (SOM) in the Division of Population Sciences, and has a faculty appointment in the Program in Public Health (PHP), College of Health Sciences (COHS). Prior to joining Chapman in 2006, Dr. Sparks occupied positions at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where she served as Director of Graduate Programs and General Education Courses, affiliated faculty with the National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases and the Center for Social Science Research, and the University of Texas at San Antonio, positions she held until she joined Chapman. A highly regarded teacher-scholar whose published work spans more than 100 research articles and scholarly book chapters, Dr. Sparks is the author and editor of more than 10 books in the areas of communication, health, and aging with a distinct focus on cancer communication science.
    Patient and Provider Interaction
    EMCI Think Tank: Mental Heathcare Media Blueprint
    Health Communication in the 21st Century

    Dr. Andrea Molle, Wilkinson College
    Andrea Molle is an associate researcher in Sociology and Political Science at Chapman University. Prior to coming to Chapman, he was Post-doc fellow at Baylor University. From November 2006 to November 2008, he conducted anthropological researches on new religions in Japan working at the Nanzan Institute for Religion and Culture (Nagoya) under the JSPS programme. He is also Associate Researcher with the Italian School for East Asian Studies in Kyoto. Current projects at Chapman focus on computational social science, non-Christian religions and spiritualties, religious markets. He has published a book on new religions (in Italian) and several articles in journals in the fields of sociology and anthropology.
    Countervailing Forces: Religiosity and Paranormal Belief in Italy

    Dr. Sheila L. Steinberg, Sociology, Wilkinson College
    Dr. Steinberg is a visiting Professor of Sociology at Chapman University and Director of Community Research for the California Center for Rural Policy.  Steinberg taught and conducted research at Humboldt State University for 11 years. She completed her bachelor's at the University of California, Santa Barbara; her master's at the University of California, Berkeley; and her doctorate at The Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include community, sociospatial research, applied sociology, research methods, health inequalities, ethnic communities, poverty, policy and environmental sociology. She has conducted field research in Nepal, Guatemala, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and California. The theme throughout this research has been the examination of people and their relationship to space and place. Recently, she has co-authored a chapter on this topic entitled "Geospatial Analysis Technology and Social Science Research." in the Handbook of Emergent Technologies, Sharlene Hesse-Biber, Editor, Oxford University Press 2011. Another recent publication is a book chapter entitled, "Global Women Superheroes: Place, Space and Action," in Chapter in: Women's Encounter with Globalization. Samir Dasgupta, R. Driskell, N. Yeates and Y. Braun (Eds.), London: Front Page Publishers 2010.


  • Exploring the connection between spirituality, coping social networks and health. We want to examine how individuals’ health and well-being is tied to spirituality, networks and their ability to cope.
  • Templeton Foundation, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation are possibilities.

  • We plan to integrate students from a variety of disciplines into the research coding and analysis portion of this project and to include them in the writing of research papers and conference presentations.