Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 695–708 | Cite as

Intrinsic Religiosity and Hypertension Among Older North American Seventh-Day Adventists

  • Sherma J. Charlemagne-Badal
  • Jerry W. Lee
Original Paper


A unique lifestyle based on religious beliefs has been associated with longevity among North American Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs); however, little is known about how religion is directly associated with hypertension in this group. Identifying and understanding the relationship between hypertension and its predictors is important because hypertension is responsible for half of all cardiovascular-related deaths and one in every seven deaths in the USA. The relationship between intrinsic religiosity and hypertension is examined. Cross-sectional data from the Biopsychosocial Religion and Health Study (N = 9581) were used. The relationship between intrinsic religiosity and hypertension when controlling for demographics, lifestyle variables, and church attendance was examined using binary logistic regression. While lifestyle factors such as vegetarian diet and regular exercise were important predictors of reduced rates of hypertension, even after controlling for these, intrinsic religiosity was just as strongly related to lower hypertension rates as the lifestyle factors. This study is the first to examine the relationship between intrinsic religiosity and hypertension among North American SDAs and demonstrates that in addition to the positive effects of lifestyle choices on health noted in the group, religion may offer direct salutary effects on hypertension. This finding is particularly important because it suggests that religiosity and not just lifestyle is related to lower risk of hypertension, a leading cause of death in the USA.


Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) Hypertension Intrinsic religiosity Body mass index (BMI) 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no potential conflict of interest pertaining to his submission to the Journal of Religion and Health.


  1. Allport, G. W., & Ross, J. M. (1967). Personal religious orientation and prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 5, 432–443.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Anyfantakis, D., Symvoulakis, E. K., Panagiotakos, D. B., Tsetis, D., Castanas, E., Shea, S., et al. (2013). Impact of religiosity/spirituality on biological and preclinical markers related to cardiovascular disease. Results from the SPILI III study. Hormones-International Journal of Endocrinology and Metabolism, 12(3), 386–396.Google Scholar
  3. Beagan, B. L., Etowa, J., & Bernard, W. T. (2012). “With God in our lives he gives us the strength to carry on”: African Nova Scotian women, spirituality, and racism-related stress. Mental Health, Religion and Culture, 15(2), 103–120. doi: 10.1080/13674676.2011.560145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bradshaw, M., & Ellison, C. G. (2010). Financial hardship and psychological distress: Exploring the buffering effects of religion. Social Science and Medicine, 71(1), 196–204. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.03.015.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. Buck, A. C., Williams, D. R., Musick, M. A., & Sternthal, M. J. (2009). An examination of the relationship between multiple dimensions of religiosity, blood pressure, and hypertension. Social Science and Medicine, 68(2), 314–322.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Buettner, D. (2005). The secrets of long life (Cover Story). National Geographic, 208, 2–27.Google Scholar
  7. Butler, T. L., Fraser, G. E., Beeson, W. L., Knutsen, S. F., Herring, R. P., Chan, J., et al. (2008). Cohort profile: The adventist health study-2 (AHS-2). International Journal of Epidemiology, 37(2), 260–265. doi: 10.1093/ije/dym165.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Chen, Y. Y., & Contrada, R. J. (2007). Religious involvement and perceived social support: Interactive effects on cardiovascular reactivity to laboratory stressors. Journal of Applied Behavioral Research, 12(1), 1–12.Google Scholar
  9. Chida, Y., & Hamer, M. (2008). Chronic psychosocial factors and acute physiological responses to laboratory-induced stress in healthy populations: A quantitative review of 30 years of investigations. Psychological Bulletin, 134(6), 829–885. doi: 10.1037/a0013342.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Chobanian, A. V., Bakris, G. L., Black, H. R., Cushman, W. C., Green, L. A., Izzo, J. L., Jr., et al. (2003). Seventh report of the joint national committee on prevention, detection, evaluation, and treatment of high blood pressure. Hypertension, 42(6), 1206–1252.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24(4), 385–396.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Fetzer Institute (Ed.). (1999). Multidimensional measurement of religiousness/spirituality for use in health research: A report of the Fetzer Institute/National Institute on aging working group. Kalamazoo: Fetzer Institute/National Institute on Aging.Google Scholar
  13. Fischer, M. A., & Avorn, J. (2004). Economic implications of evidence-based prescribing for hypertension: Can better care cost less? JAMA, 291(15), 1850–1856.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. Fraser, G. E. (2003). Diet, life expectancy, and chronic disease: Studies of seventh-day adventists and other vegetarians. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Fraser, G. E., & Shavlik, D. J. (2001). Ten years of life: Is it a matter of choice? Archives of Internal Medicine, 161(13), 1645–1652.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Graham, J. W., Olchowski, A. E., & Gilreath, T. D. (2007). How many imputations are really needed? Some practical clarifications of multiple imputation theory. Prevention Science, 8(3), 206–213. doi: 10.1007/s11121-007-0070-9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Heidenreich, P. A., Trogdon, J. G., Khavjou, O. A., Butler, J., Dracup, K., Ezekowitz, M. D., et al. (2011). Forecasting the future of cardiovascular disease in the United States: A policy statement from the american heart association. Journal of the American Heart Association, 123(8), 933–944.Google Scholar
  18. Hixson, K. A., Gruchow, H. W., & Morgan, D. W. (1998). The relation between religiosity, selected health behaviors, and blood pressure among adult females. Preventive Medicine, 27(4), 545–552. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1998.0321.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Koenig, H. G., King, D. E., & Carson, V. B. (2012). Handbook of religion and health (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Koenig, H. G., Parkerson, G. R, Jr, & Meador, K. G. (1997). Religion index for psychiatric research. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 154(6), 885–886.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Kohout, F. J., Berkman, L. F., Evans, D. A., & Cornoni-Huntley, J. (1993). Two shorter forms of the CES-D depression symptoms index. Journal of Aging and Health, 5(2), 179–193.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Lee, J. W., Morton, K. R., Walters, J., Bellinger, D. L., Butler, T. L., Wilson, C., et al. (2009). Cohort profile: The biopsychosocial religion and health study (BRHS). International Journal of Epidemiology, 38(6), 1470–1478. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyn244.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. Lee, J. W., Stacey, G. E., & Fraser, G. E. (2003). Social support, religiosity, other psychological factors, and health. In G. E. Fraser (Ed.), Diet, life expectancy, and chronic disease: Studies of seventh-day adventists and other vegetarians (p. 27). Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Lemon, F. R., & Kuzma, J. W. (1969). A biologic cost of smoking. Decreased life expectancy. Archives of Environmental Health, 18, 950–955.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Mascaro, N., Rosen, D. H., & Morey, L. C. (2004). The development, construct validity, and clinical utility of the spiritual meaning scale. Personality and Individual Differences, 37(4), 845–860. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2003.12.011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Masters, K., & Knestel, A. (2011). Religious motivation and cardiovascular reactivity among middle aged adults: Is being pro-religious really that good for you? Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 34(6), 449–461. doi: 10.1007/s10865-011-9352-6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Silva, L. B. E. D., Silva, S. S. B. E. D., Marcílio, A. G., & Pierin, Â. M. G. (2012). Prevalence of arterial hypertension among seventh-day adventists of the são paulo state capital and inner area. Arquivos Brasileiros De Cardiologia, 98, 329–337.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Srivastava, S., Pervin, L. A., & John, O. P. (1999). The big five trait taxonomy: History, measurement, and theoretical perspectives. In L. A. Pervin & O. P. John (Eds.), Handbook of personality: Theory and research (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  29. Tantamango-Bartley, Y., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Fan, J., & Fraser, G. E. (2013). Vegetarian diets and the incidence of cancer in a low-risk population. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, 22(2), 286–294.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Tartaro, J., Luecken, L. J., & Gunn, H. E. (2005). Exploring heart and soul: Effects of religiosity/spirituality and gender on blood pressure and cortisol stress responses. Journal of Health Psychology, 10(6), 753–766. doi: 10.1177/1359105305057311.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. Walsh, A. (1998). Religion and hypertension: Testing alternative explanations among immigrants. Behavioral Medicine, 24(3), 122–130. doi: 10.1080/08964289809596390.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Leadership in Health SystemsLoma Linda University School of Public HealthLoma LindaUSA
  2. 2.Center for Nutrition, Healthy Lifestyle, and Disease PreventionLoma Linda University School of Public HealthLoma LindaUSA

Personalised recommendations