Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 305–312 | Cite as

Relationship Between Private Religious Activity and Physical Functioning in Older Adults

  • Katherine C. Haley
  • Harold G. Koenig
  • Bruce M. Bruchett


This study sought to further understand the relationship between physical functioning and use of private religious activity in older adults. Subjects were age 65 or older from urban and rural counties in North Carolina who participated in the Duke University Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (Duke/EPESE). A total of 3,851 subjects responded to a question that inquired about their use of prayer, meditation, or Bible reading in 1986. Their response was correlated to number of impairments in activities of daily living (ADLs) (n = 3,791). Subjects who indicated use of private religious activity either dailyor neverhad the greatest number of impairments. Those who prayed or meditated one time per weekhad the least number of impairments. This cross-sectional finding is explained in terms of both changes in private religious activity in response to increasing physical disability and changes in physical disability in response to private religious activity. Previous research has found that prayer is often used as an effective coping mechanism with various sicknesses and chronic conditions. Further studies are needed to examine older individuals' health over time and evaluate their use of private religious activity to see its impact over time on physical disability.

prayer geriatrics effect of prayer on health 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abraido-Lanza, A.F., Guier, C., and Revenson, T.A. (1996). Coping and Social Support Resources Among Latinas with Arthritis. Arthritic Care and Research, 9, 501-508.Google Scholar
  2. Arcury, T.A., Bernard, S.L., Jordan, J.M., and Cook, H.L. (1996). Gender and Ethnic Differences in Alternative and Conventional Arthritis Remedy Use Among Community-Dwelling Rural Adults with Arthritis. Arthritic Care and Research, 384-390.Google Scholar
  3. Bill-Harvey, D., Rippey, R.M., Abeles, M., and Pfeiffer, C.A. (1989). Methods Used by Urban, Low-Income Minorities to Care for Their Arthritis. Arthritic Care and Research, 2, 60-64.Google Scholar
  4. Cassileth, B.R., Lusk, E.J., Thomas, B., and Bondenheimer, B. (1984). Contemporary Unorthodox Treatments in Cancer Medicine. Annals of Internal Medicine, 101, 105-112.Google Scholar
  5. Cronan, T.A., Kaplan, R.M., Posner, L., Bulmber, E., and Kozin, F. (1989). Prevalence of the Use of Unconventional Remedies for Arthritis in a Metropolitan Community. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 32, 1604-1607.Google Scholar
  6. Fillenbaum, G.G. (1985). Screening the Elderly: A Brief Instrumental ADL Measure. Journal American Geriatric Society, 33, 698-706.Google Scholar
  7. Gonzalez, V.M., Goeppnger, J., and Korig, K. (1990). Four Psychosocial Theories and Their Application to Patient Education and Clinical Practice. Arthritic Care and Research, 3, 132-143.Google Scholar
  8. Guarnaccia, P.J., Parra, P., Deschamps, A., Milstein, G., et al. (1992). Si Dios Quiere: Hispanic Families' Experiences of Caring for a Seriously Mentally Ill Family Member. Cultural Media and Psychiatry, 16, 187-215.Google Scholar
  9. Guillory, J.A., Sowell, R., Moneyham, L., and Seals, B. (1997). An Exploration of the Meaning and Use of Spirituality Among Women with HIV/AIDS. Alternative Therapies, 3, 55-60.Google Scholar
  10. Idler, E.L. (1987). Religious Involvement and the Health of the Elderly: Some Hypotheses and an Initial Test. Social Forces, 66, 226-238.Google Scholar
  11. Idler, E.L., and Kasl, S. (1991). Health Perceptions and Survival: Do Global Evaluations of Health Status Really Predict Mortality? Journal of Gerontology, 46, S55-S63.Google Scholar
  12. Idler, E.L., and Kasl, S.V. (1997). Religion Among Disabled and Nondisabled Elderly Persons, II: Attendance at Religious Services as a Predictor of the Course of Disability. Journal of Gerontology, 52B, 306-316.Google Scholar
  13. Katz, S., and Akpom, C.A. (1976). A Measure of Primary Sociobiological Functions. International Journal of Health Service, 6, 493-507.Google Scholar
  14. King, D.E., and Bushwick, B. (1994). Beliefs and Attitudes of Hospital Inpatients About Faith Healing and Prayer. Journal of Family Practice, 39, 349-352.Google Scholar
  15. Kish, L. (1965). Survey Sampling. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  16. Koenig, H.G., Bearon, L.B., and Daryringer, R. (1989). Physician Perspectives on the Role of Religion in the Physical-Older Patient Relationship. Journal of Family Practice, 28, 441-448.Google Scholar
  17. Koenig, H.G., Cohen, H.J., Blazer, D.G., et al. (1992). Religious Coping and Depression Among Elderly, Hospitalized Medically Ill Men. American Journal of Psychiatry, 14, 1693-1700.Google Scholar
  18. Kurfees, J.F., and Fulkerson, G. Religious Belief Systems as a Determinant of Patient Behavior. Presented at the Southeastern Regional Meeting of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, November 1-3, 1990, Greenville, NC.Google Scholar
  19. Magaletta, P.R., Duckro, P.N., and Staten, S.F. (1997). Prayer in office practice: On the Threshold of integration. Journal of Family Practice, 44, 254-256.Google Scholar
  20. Malcarne, V.L., and Greenbergs, H.L. (1996). Psychological Adjustment to Systemic Sclerosis. Arthritis Care and Research, 9, 51-59.Google Scholar
  21. Maugans, T.A., and Wadland, W.C. (1991). Religion and Family Medicine: A Survey of Physicians and Patients. Journal of Family Practice, 32, 210-213.Google Scholar
  22. Post, S.G., Puchalski, C., and Larson, D. (2000). Physicians and Patient Spirituality: Professional Boundaries, Competency, and Ethics. Annals of Internal Medicine, 132, 578-583.Google Scholar
  23. Rosow, I., and Breslau, N. (1966). A Guttman Health Scale for the Aged. Journal of Gerontology, 21, 556-559.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Blanton-Peale Institute 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katherine C. Haley
    • 1
  • Harold G. Koenig
    • 2
  • Bruce M. Bruchett
    • 3
  1. 1.Lombardi Cancer CenterGeorgetown UniversityUSA
  2. 2.Duke University Medical CenterUSA
  3. 3.Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development and Department of PsychiatryDuke University Medical CenterUSA

Personalised recommendations