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

Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgments

Dr. Wassertheil-Smoller had full access to all the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis. Grateful acknowledgment is extended to Linzhi Xu and Victor Kamensky for statistical programming. Program Office: (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Bethesda, Maryland) Jacques Rossouw, Shari Ludlam, Joan McGowan, Leslie Ford, and Nancy Geller. Clinical Coordinating Center: (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA) Ross Prentice, Garnet Anderson, Andrea LaCroix, Charles Kooperberg; (Medical Research Labs, Highland Heights, KY) Evan Stein; (University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, CA) Steven Cummings. Clinical Centers: (Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY) Sylvia Wassertheil-Smoller; (Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX) Haleh Sangi-Haghpeykar; (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA) JoAnn E. Manson; (Brown University, Providence, RI) Charles B. Eaton; (Emory University, Atlanta, GA) Lawrence S. Phillips; (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA) Shirley Beresford; (George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC) Lisa Martin; (Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA) Rowan Chlebowski; (Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Portland, OR) Erin LeBlanc; (Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, Oakland, CA) Bette Caan; (Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI) Jane Morley Kotchen; (MedStar Research Institute/Howard University, Washington, DC) Barbara V. Howard; (Northwestern University, Chicago/Evanston, IL) Linda Van Horn; (Rush Medical Center, Chicago, IL) Henry Black; (Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford, CA) Marcia L. Stefanick; (State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY) Dorothy Lane; (The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH) Rebecca Jackson; (University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL) Cora E. Lewis; (University of Arizona, Tucson/Phoenix, AZ) Cynthia A. Thomson; (University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY) Jean Wactawski-Wende; (University of California at Davis, Sacramento, CA) John Robbins; (University of California at Irvine, CA) F. Allan Hubbell; (University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA) Lauren Nathan; (University of California at San Diego, LaJolla/Chula Vista, CA) Robert D. Langer; (University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH) Margery Gass; (University of Florida, Gainesville/Jacksonville, FL) Marian Limacher; (University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI) J. David Curb; (University of Iowa, Iowa City/Davenport, IA) Robert Wallace; (University of Massachusetts/Fallon Clinic, Worcester, MA) Judith Ockene; (University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, NJ) Norman Lasser; (University of Miami, Miami, FL) Mary Jo O’Sullivan; (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN) Karen Margolis; (University of Nevada, Reno, NV) Robert Brunner; (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC) Gerardo Heiss; (University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA) Lewis Kuller; (University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN) Karen C. Johnson; (University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX) Robert Brzyski; (University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI) Gloria E. Sarto; (Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC) Mara Vitolins; (Wayne State University School of Medicine/Hutzel Hospital, Detroit, MI) Michael S. Simon. The WHI program is funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through contracts N01WH22110, 24152, 32100-2, 32105-6, 32108-9, 32111-13, 32115, 32118-32119, 32122, 42107-26, 42129-32, and 44221.

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Correspondence to Eliezer Schnall.

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Schnall, E., Kalkstein, S., Fitchett, G. et al. Psychological and Social Characteristics Associated with Religiosity in Women’s Health Initiative Participants. J Relig Health 51, 20–31 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-011-9549-6

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Keywords

  • 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