|Title||Religion, spirituality and aging: A longitudinal study of mental and physical coping|
|Year of Publication||2012|
|University||The University of Utah|
|City||Salt Lake City, UT|
|Keywords||Adult children, Demographics, Health Conditions and Status|
A connection to the divine, God, or nature can be a source of comfort, guidance and insight, particularly during times of hardship or illness. This study draws together sociological theories on religion, aging and health to explore the ways in which religious and spiritual practices may impact the mental and physical aspects of old age. Analyzing data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) from 2000 to 2010, the effects of religious salience, prayer and meditation are investigated in terms of their impact on mental health and physical functioning. Additionally the study examines a sample of cancer survivors to determine if the effects of religion differ for this unique population. Results demonstrated a salutary effect of religious salience on mental health and coping with cancer, but a negative association with disability. Similarly, moderate prayer improved outcomes of depression and disability while daily prayer and meditation was associated with poorer outcomes. Theoretical explanations for these results are discussed with respect to policy implications and future research directions.
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