The relation of religious preference and practice to depressive symptoms among 1,855 older adults

Gary J. Kennedy, Howard R. Kelman, Cynthia Thomas, Jiming Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

70 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Religious devotion is a complex phenomenon but a potentially important source of support and meaning in the lives of older adults. Nonetheless, attendance at religious services and religious preference (affiliation) have received relatively little prominence in epidemiological studies of late life mental illness despite their relative ease of measurement. We examined differences in the prevalence and course of depressive symptoms and associated characteristics among 1,855 older community residents who expressed a Jewish, Catholic, or other religious preference. At baseline, Jewish religious preference was associated with a twofold elevation in the prevalence of depressive symptoms compared to Catholics. Lack of attendance at religious services was associated with greater prevalence of depression among all groups, significantly so among Catholics. The relationship of depression with Jewish religious preference and with failure to attend services could not be accounted far by measures of age, gender, health, disability, or social support. Twenty-four months following baseline, Jewish religious preference was associated with the emergence of depressive symptoms and remained significant when the effects of age, gender, health, disability, and social support were controlled. Failure to attend services was associated with both the emergence and persistence of depression but did not remain significant once the effects of other characteristics were controlled. For both religious and health care institutions, these findings have implications for the prevention, recognition, and treatment of late life mental illness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Volume51
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1996

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Depression
mental illness
social support
Social Support
disability
gender
health
Health
persistence
Epidemiologic Studies
health care
resident
lack
Delivery of Health Care
community
Group

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Aging
  • Psychology(all)

Cite this

The relation of religious preference and practice to depressive symptoms among 1,855 older adults. / Kennedy, Gary J.; Kelman, Howard R.; Thomas, Cynthia; Chen, Jiming.

In: Journals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, Vol. 51, No. 6, 11.1996.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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