Original Paper

Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 20-31

First online:

Psychological and Social Characteristics Associated with Religiosity in Women’s Health Initiative Participants

  • Eliezer SchnallAffiliated withYeshiva College, Yeshiva University Email author 
  • , Solomon KalksteinAffiliated withPhiladelphia VA Medical Center, University of Pennsylvania
  • , George FitchettAffiliated withRush University Medical Center
  • , Elena Salmoirago-BlotcherAffiliated withUniversity of Massachusetts Medical School
  • , Judith OckeneAffiliated withUniversity of Massachusetts Medical School
  • , Hilary Aurora TindleAffiliated withUniversity of Pittsburgh
  • , Asha ThomasAffiliated withSinai Hospital of Baltimore
  • , Julie R. HuntAffiliated withFred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
  • , Sylvia Wassertheil-SmollerAffiliated withAlbert Einstein College of Medicine

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Measures of religiosity are linked to health outcomes, possibly indicating mediating effects of associated psychological and social factors. We examined cross-sectional data from 92,539 postmenopausal participants of the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study who responded to questions on religious service attendance, psychological characteristics, and social support domains. We present odds ratios from multiple logistic regressions controlling for covariates. Women attending services weekly during the past month, compared with those not attending at all in the past month, were less likely to be depressed [OR = 0.78; CI = 0.74–0.83] or characterized by cynical hostility [OR = 0.94; CI = 0.90–0.98], and more likely to be optimistic [OR = 1.22; CI = 1.17–1.26]. They were also more likely to report overall positive social support [OR = 1.28; CI = 1.24–1.33], as well as social support of four subtypes (emotional/informational support, affection support, tangible support, and positive social interaction), and were less likely to report social strain [OR = 0.91; CI = 0.88–0.94]. However, those attending more or less than weekly were not less likely to be characterized by cynical hostility, nor were they less likely to report social strain, compared to those not attending during the past month.


Religion and health Religion and psychology Religious behavior and health Religious attendance and health Religious behavior and social support Religious behavior and social strain Religious behavior and psychological characteristics