Religious Attendance and Biological Risk: A National Longitudinal Study of Older Adults
Although several studies suggest that religious involvement is associated with healthier biological functioning in later life, most of this work is cross-sectional. We extend previous research by employing a longitudinal design. Our analysis of Health and Retirement Study (2006/2010) data suggests that older adults who attended religious services weekly or more in 2006 tend to exhibit fewer high-risk biomarkers in 2010 and greater reductions in allostatic load over the 4-year study period than respondents who attended yearly or not at all. These patterns persisted with adjustments for baseline allostatic load and a range of background variables.
KeywordsReligion Religious involvement Biology Allostatic load Cystatin-C
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
All the authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
This article does not contain any studies with human participants performed by any of the authors. The current study employs secondary data analysis on de-identified, publicly available data, and therefore did not require IRB approval.
- Bruce, M., Sims, M., Miller, S., Elliott, V., & Ladipo, Marian. (2007). One size fits all? Race, gender and body mass index among U.S. adults. Journal of the National Medical Association, 99, 1152–1158.Google Scholar
- Crimmins, E., Faul, J., Kim, J. K., Guyer, H., Langa, K., Ofstedal, M. B., et al. (2013). Documentation of biomarkers in the 2006 and 2008 Health and Retirement Study. Ann Arbor, MI: Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research.Google Scholar
- Hill, T. (2010). A biopsychosocial model of religious involvement. In K. Whitfield (Ed.), Annual review of gerontology and geriatrics (pp. 179–200). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
- Idler, E. L., Musick, M. A., Ellison, C. G., George, L. K., Krause, N., Ory, M. G., et al. (2003). Measuring multiple dimensions of religion and spirituality for health research: Conceptual background and findings from the 1998 General Social Survey. Research on Aging, 25, 327–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ironson, G., Solomon, G., Balbin, E., O’Cleirigh, C., George, A., Kumar, M., et al. (2002). The Ironson-Woods Spirituality/Religiousness Index is associated with long survival, health behaviors, less distress, and low cortisol in people with HIV/AIDS. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 24, 34–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Koenig, H., King, D., & Carson, V. (2012). Handbook of religion and health (2nd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- McEwen, B. (2002). The end of stress as we know it. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press.Google Scholar
- Pew Research Center. (2014). Religious landscape study: Generational cohort. Washington, DC: Religious Group. http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/generational-cohort/.
- Reyes-Ortiz, C. A., Berges, I. M., Raji, M. A., Koenig, H. G., Kuo, Y. F., & Markides, K. S. (2008). Church attendance mediates the association between depressive symptoms and cognitive functioning among older Mexican Americans. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 63, 480–486.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Rogers, R., Krueger, P., & Hummer, R. (2010). Religious attendance and cause-specific mortality in the United States. In C. Ellison & R. Hummer (Eds.), Religion, families, and health: Population-based research in the Unites States (pp. 292–320). New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.Google Scholar
- Sergi, G., Perissinotto, E., Pisent, C., Buja, A., Maggi, S., Coin, A., et al. (2005). An adequate threshold for body mass index to detect underweight condition in elderly persons: The Italian Longitudinal Study on Aging (ILSA). The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 60, 866–871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar