Journal of Cross-Cultural Gerontology

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 37–54 | Cite as

Beyond church attendance: Religiosity and mental health among rural older adults

  • Jim Mitchell
  • Dave Weatherly


Data from 2 independent random samples of thepopulation of community-dwelling older adults ineastern North Carolina are used to assess the effectsof Christian religious subdimensions, including churchattendance and participation, belief that religiousfaith affects health, and belief that prayer and Godcombine with medical treatment to cure illness, uponmental health. Self-reported religiosity in thispopulation across dimensions is described and theeffects of selected demographic characteristics uponreligiosity are assessed. Lastly, the main effects ofdemographic characteristics, religiosity, and healthstatus upon the mental health of respondents areexplored. Findings suggest that Christian religiousbeliefs and practices are widespread in this mainlyrural population and that females and African Americanelderly people are more likely than others to professreligious beliefs and to participate in church-relatedactivities. Multivariate results suggest that reducedhealth status, including functional ability, combineswith limited participation in church activities toresult in poorer self-rated mental health and moresymptoms of depression. The implications of thefindings for the role of Christian religiosity inhealth and mental health are discussed.

Aging Ethnicity Mental health Religiosity Rural 


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jim Mitchell
  • Dave Weatherly

There are no affiliations available

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