The Association of Private Prayer with Neuropsychiatric Symptoms, Cognition, and Sleep Disturbances in Persons with Dementia (Sci255)

TitleThe Association of Private Prayer with Neuropsychiatric Symptoms, Cognition, and Sleep Disturbances in Persons with Dementia (Sci255)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2023
AuthorsBritt, KC, Richards, KC, Kesler, S, Acton, G, Hamilton, J, Radhakrishnan, K
JournalJournal of Pain and Symptom Management
ISSN Number0885-3924

Outcomes 1. Verbalize the association of private prayer with symptoms of dementia progression with cultural consideration of populations who may find religion and spirituality important to inform person-centered care. 2. Demonstrate the need for additional studies to be conducted examining association of private prayer over time with symptoms of dementia progression to evaluate potential for improving quality of life. Protective factors that slow progression and improve quality of life in persons with dementia (PWD) are needed. Neuropsychiatric symptoms (NPS), cognitive decline, and sleep disturbances are common, increase caregiver stress, and indicate dementia progression. Accruing research suggests religious practice is associated with improved mental and physical health, yet few studies have been conducted in dementia. We analyzed data from the Health and Retirement study in 2000, 2006, and 2008 and sub study, Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study in 2001–2003, 2006–2007, and 2008–2009 to examine the association of private prayer with NPS, cognitive function, and sleep disturbances among PWD age 70 years and older in the United States (N=40). A cross-sectional analysis using bootstrapped Spearman's Rho correlation was utilized. Mean age was 84.67 years (sd 5.16), 73.9% were non-Hispanic White, and 74.9% were female. Ninety-one percent reported praying at least once per week with higher rates identified among non-Hispanic Black (100%) and Hispanic participants (100%). Cognitive function was 1.169 (sd .516), indicating mild cognitive impairment, mean score of NPS 5.22 (sd 7.41) was identified as clinically significant, and mean sleep disturbances .79 (sd 1.078) were mild on 0–9 score. Private prayer was significantly associated with neuropsychiatric symptoms (rs (97) = - .358, 95% CI [-.363, -.353], p<.01), cognitive function (rs (97) = - .383, 95% CI [-.388, -.378], p<.01), and sleep disturbances (rs (97) = -,147 95% CI [-.153, -.141], p<.01). Increased frequency of private prayer was associated with lower NPS, better cognitive function, and lower sleep disturbances. This could be due to the use of cognitive processes used in prayer to seek guidance for making decisions, request aid when distressed, and reduce loneliness through communication with the divine. Longitudinal studies are needed, including minority populations and examining age moderation especially as minorities and older adults find religion and spirituality important.

Citation KeyBRITT2023e670