Religious Affiliation, Religious Service Attendance, and Mortality

Abstract

Very few studies have examined the effects of both religious affiliation and religiosity on mortality at the same time, and studies employing multiple dimensions of religiosity other than religious attendance are rare. Using the newly created General Social Survey-National Death Index data, our report contributes to the religion and mortality literature by examining religious affiliation and religiosity at the same time. Compared to Mainline Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and other religious groups have lower risk of death, but Black Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, and even those with no religious affiliation are not different from Mainline Protestants. While our study is consistent with previous findings that religious attendance leads to a reduction in mortality, we did not find other religious measures, such as strength of religious affiliation, frequency of praying, belief in an afterlife, and belief in God to be associated with mortality. We also find interaction effects between religious affiliation and attendance. The lowest mortality of Jews and other religious groups is more apparent for those with lower religious attendance. Thus, our result may emphasize the need for other research to focus on the effects of religious group and religious attendance on mortality at the same time.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Carr, D., & Sharp, S. (2013). Do afterlife beliefs affect psychological adjustment to late-life spousal loss? Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbt063. First published online: June 29, 2013.

  2. Chaves, M. (2011). American religion. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Chida, Y., Steptoe, A., & Powell, L. H. (2009). Religiosity/spirituality and mortality a systematic quantitative review. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 78(2), 81–90.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Cleves, M., Gutierrez, R. G., Gould, W., & Marchenko, Y. V. (2010). An introduction to survival analysis using stata. College Station, Texas: Stata.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Cornwall, M., Albrecht, S. L., Cunningham, P. H., & Pitcher, B. L. (1986). The dimensions of religiosity: A conceptual model with an empirical test. Review of Religious Research, 27(3), 226–244.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Ellison, C., & Levin, J. S. (1998). The religion-health connection: Evidence, theory, and future directions. Health education and Behavior, 25(6), 700–720.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Gillum, R. F., King, D. E., Obisesan, T. O., & Koenig, H. G. (2008). Frequency of attendance at religious services and mortality in a U.S. national cohort. Annals of Epidemiology, 18(2), 124–129.

    PubMed Central  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Goldstein, S. (1996). Changes in Jewish mortality. Social Biology, 43(1–2), 72–97.

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. Greeley, A. M., & Hout, M. (1999). Americans’ increasing belief in life after death: Religious competition and acculturation. American Sociological Review, 64(6), 813–835.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Greenfield, E. A., & Marks, N. F. (2007). Religious social identity as an explanatory factor for associations between more frequent formal religious participation and psychological well-being. The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 17(3), 245–259.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Harrigan, J. T. (2011). Health promoting habits of people who pray for their health. Journal of Religion and Health, 50(3), 602–607.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Helm, H. M., Hays, J. C., Flint, E. P., Koenig, E. P., & Blazer, D. G. (2000). Does private religious activity prolong survival? A six-year follow-up study of 3,851 older adults. Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, 55(7), M400–M405.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  13. Hill, T. D., Burdette, A. M., & Idler, E. L. (2011). Religious involvement, health status, and mortality risk. In R. A. Settersten & J. L. Angel (Eds.), Handbook of sociology of aging (pp. 533–546). New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Hogg, M. A. (2006). Social identity theory. In P. J. Burke (Ed.), Contemporary social psychological theories (pp. 111–136). Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Hogg, M. A., Adelman, J. R., & Blagg, R. D. (2010). Religion in the face of uncertainty: An uncertainty-identity theory account of religiousness. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 14(1), 72–83.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Hummer, R. A., Ellison, C. G., Rogers, R. G., Moulton, B. E., & Romero, R. R. (2004). Religious Involvement and adult mortality in the United States: Review and perspective. Southern Medical Journal, 97(12), 1223–1230.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Hummer, R. A., Rogers, R. G., Nam, C. B., & Ellison, C. G. (1999). Religious involvement and U.S. adult mortality. Demography, 36(2), 273–285.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  18. Iannaccone, L. R. (1994). Why strict churches are strong. American Journal of Sociology, 99(5), 1180–1211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Idler, E. L. (2011). Religion and adult mortality: Group- and individual-level perspectives. International handbook of adult mortality (pp. 345–377). New York: Springer.

  20. Jarvis, G. K., & Northcott, H. C. (1987). Religion and differences in morbidity and mortality. Social Science and Medicine, 25(7), 813–824.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  21. Kass, J. D., Friedman, R., Leserman, J., Zuttermeister, P. C., & Benson, H. (1991). Health outcomes and a new index of spiritual experience. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 30(2), 203–211.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Koenig, H., King, D., & Carson, V. B. (2012). Mortality. Handbook of religion and health (2nd ed., pp. 468–491). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  23. Koenig, H., McCullough, M. E., & Larson, D. B. (2001). Mortality. Handbook of Religion and Health (pp. 318–330). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  24. Levin, J. (2001). God, faith, and health. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  25. Levin, J., Chatters, L. M., & Taylor, R. J. (2011). Theory in religion, aging, and health: An overview. Journal of Religion and Health, 50(2), 389–406.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  26. Levin, J. S., & Schiller, P. I. (1987). Is there a religious factor in health? Journal of Religion and Health, 26(1), 9–35.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  27. Lucchetti, G., Lucchetti, A. L. G., & Koenig, H. G. (2011). Impact of spirituality/religiosity on mortality: Comparison with other health interventions. Explore-The Journal of Science and Healing, 7(4), 234–238.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. McCullough, M. E., Hoyt, W. T., Larson, D. B., Koenig, H. G., & Thoresen, C. (2000). Religious involvement and mortality: A meta-analytic review. Health Psychology, 19(3), 211–222.

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  29. Moulton, B. E., & Sherkat, D. E. (2012). Specifying the effects of religious participation and educational attainment on mortality risk for US adults. Sociological Spectrum, 32(1), 1–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Muennig, P., Johnson, G., Kim, J., Smith, T. W., & Rosen, Z. (2011). The General Social Survey-National Death Index: An innovative new dataset for the social sciences. BMC Research Notes, 4, 385.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  31. Musick, M. A., House, J. S., & Williams, D. R. (2004). Attendance at religious services and mortality in a national sample. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 45(2), 198–213.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  32. Nicholson, A., Rose, R., & Bobak, M. (2010). Associations between different dimensions of religious involvement and self-rated health in diverse European populations. Health Psychology, 29(2), 227–235.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  33. Oman, D., Kurata, J. H., Strawbridge, W. J., & Cohen, R. D. (2002). Religious attendance and cause of death over 31 years. International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, 32(1), 69–89.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  34. Paragament, K. I. (2002). The bitter and the sweet: An evaluation of the costs and benefits of religiousness. Psychological Inquiry: An International Journal for the Advancement of Psychological Theory, 13(3), 168–181.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. Ploch, D. R., & Hastings, D. W. (1994). Graphic presentations of church attendance using General Social Survey Data. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 33(1), 16–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Powell, L. H., Shahabi, L., & Thoresen, C. E. (2003). Religion and spirituality: Linkages to physical health. The American Psychologist, 58(1), 36–52.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  37. Rippentrop, A. E., Altmaier, E. M., Chen, J. J., Found, E. M., & Keffala, V. J. (2005). The relationship between religion/spirituality and physical health, mental health, and pain in a chronic pain population. Pain, 116, 311–321.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Sharp, S. (2010). How does prayer help manage emotions? Social Psychological Quarterly, 73(4), 417–437.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Silton, N., Flannelly, K. J., Galek, K., & Ellison, C. G. (2013). Beliefs about god and mental health among American adults. Journal of Religion and Health,. doi:10.1007/s10943-013-9712-3.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Smith, T. W., Marsden, P., Hout, M., & Kim, J. (2011). General social surveys, 1972–2010: Cumulative codebook. Chicago: NORC.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Steensland, B., Park, J. Z., Regnerus, M. D., Robinson, L. D., Wilcox, W. B., & Woodberry, R. D. (2000). The measure of American religion: Toward improving the state of the art. Social Forces, 79(1), 291–318.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Strawbridge, W. J., Cohen, R. D., Shema, S. J., & Kaplan, G. A. (1997). Frequent attendance at religious services and mortality over 28 years. American Journal of Public Health, 87(6), 957–961.

    PubMed Central  CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  43. Sullivan, A. R. (2010). Mortality differentials and religion in the United States: Religious affiliation and attendance. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 49(4), 740–753.

    PubMed Central  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jibum Kim.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kim, J., Smith, T.W. & Kang, J. Religious Affiliation, Religious Service Attendance, and Mortality. J Relig Health 54, 2052–2072 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-014-9902-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Religious affiliation
  • Religious service attendance
  • Mortality