Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 34, Issue 5, pp 360–371 | Cite as

Religion and healthy lifestyle behaviors among postmenopausal women: the women’s health initiative

  • Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher
  • George Fitchett
  • Judy K. Ockene
  • Eliezer Schnall
  • Sybil Crawford
  • Iris Granek
  • JoAnn Manson
  • Ira Ockene
  • Mary Jo O’Sullivan
  • Lynda Powell
  • Stephen Rapp


Worship attendance has been associated with longer survival in prospective cohort studies. A possible explanation is that religious involvement may promote healthier lifestyle choices. Therefore, we examined whether attendance is associated with healthy behaviors, i.e. use of preventive medicine services, non-smoking, moderate drinking, exercising regularly, and with healthy dietary habits. The population included 71,689 post-menopausal women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative observational study free of chronic diseases at baseline. Attendance and lifestyle behaviors information was collected at baseline using self-administered questionnaires. Healthy behaviors were modeled as a function of attendance using logistic regression. After adjustment for confounders, worship attendance (less than weekly, weekly, and more than weekly vs. never) was positively associated with use of preventive services [OR for mammograms: 1.34 (1.19, 1.51), 1.41 (1.26, 1.57), 1.33 (1.17, 1.52); breast self exams: 1.14 (1.02, 1.27), 1.33 (1.21, 1.48), 1.25 (1.1, 1.43); PAP smears: 1.22 (1.01, 1.47-weekly vs. none)]; non-smoking: [1.41 (1.35, 1.48), 1.76 (1.69, 1.84), 2.27 (2.15, 2.39)]; moderate drinking [1.35 (1.27, 1.45), 1.60 (1.52, 1.7), 2.19 (2.0, 2.4)]; and fiber intake [1.08 (1.03, 1.14), 1.16 (1.11, 1.22), 1.31 (1.23, 1.39), respectively], but not with regular exercise or with lower saturated fat and caloric intake. These findings suggest that worship attendance is associated with certain, but not all, healthy behaviors. Further research is needed to get a deeper understanding of the relationship between religious involvement and healthy lifestyle behaviors and of the inconsistent patterns in this association.


Middle-aged women Religion Lifestyles Health Health behaviors 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher
    • 1
  • George Fitchett
    • 2
  • Judy K. Ockene
    • 3
  • Eliezer Schnall
    • 4
  • Sybil Crawford
    • 3
  • Iris Granek
    • 5
  • JoAnn Manson
    • 6
  • Ira Ockene
    • 1
  • Mary Jo O’Sullivan
    • 7
  • Lynda Powell
    • 2
  • Stephen Rapp
    • 8
  1. 1.Division of Cardiovascular MedicineUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  2. 2.Rush University Medical CenterChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Division of Preventive and Behavioral MedicineUniversity of Massachusetts Medical SchoolWorcesterUSA
  4. 4.Yeshiva CollegeYeshiva UniversityNew YorkUSA
  5. 5.Health Sciences CenterStony BrookUSA
  6. 6.Brigham and Women’s HospitalHarvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA
  7. 7.University of MiamiMiamiUSA
  8. 8.Wake Forest University School of MedicineWinston-SalemUSA

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