Religion and Mental Health Among Israeli Jews: Findings from the SHARE-Israel Study
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- Levin, J. Soc Indic Res (2013) 113: 769. doi:10.1007/s11205-012-0113-x
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This study investigates the impact of religiousness on mental health indicators in a population sample of Israeli Jews aged 50 or older. Data are from the Israel sample of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE-Israel), collected from 2005 to 2006. Of the 1,287 Jewish respondents, 473 (36.8 %) were native-born Israelis and 814 (63.2 %) were diaspora-born. Religious measures included past-month synagogue activities, current prayer, and having received a religious education. Mental health outcomes included single-item measures of lifetime depression and life satisfaction, along with the CES-D and EURO-D depression scales, the CASP-12 quality of life scale, and the LOT-R optimism scale. Participation in synagogue activities was found to be significantly associated with less depression, better quality of life, and more optimism, even after adjusting for effects of the other religious measures, for sociodemographic covariates, for the possibly confounding effect of age-related activity limitation, and for nativity. Findings for prayer were less consistent, including inverse associations with mental health, perhaps reflecting prayer’s use as a coping response. Finally, religious education was associated with greater optimism. These results underscore a modest contribution of religious participation to well-being among middle-aged and older adults, extending this research to the Israeli and Jewish populations.