The Protective Effects of Religiosity on Depression: A 2-Year Prospective Study.

TitleThe Protective Effects of Religiosity on Depression: A 2-Year Prospective Study.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsRonneberg, CR, Miller, EAlan, Dugan, E, Porell, F
Date Published2016 06
ISSN Number1758-5341
KeywordsAdult, Aged, Aging, depression, Depressive Disorder, Female, Health Surveys, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Religion, Religion and Psychology, Social Support, Spirituality, United States

PURPOSE OF THE STUDY: Approximately 20% of older adults are diagnosed with depression in the United States. Extant research suggests that engagement in religious activity, or religiosity, may serve as a protective factor against depression. This prospective study examines whether religiosity protects against depression and/or aids in recovery.

DESIGN AND METHODS: Study data are drawn from the 2006 and 2008 waves of the Health and Retirement Study. The sample consists of 1,992 depressed and 5,740 nondepressed older adults (mean age = 68.12 years), at baseline (2006), for an overall sample size of 7,732. Logistic regressions analyzed the relationship between organizational (service attendance), nonorganizational (private prayer), and intrinsic measures of religiosity and depression onset (in the baseline nondepressed group) and depression recovery (in the baseline depressed group) at follow-up (2008), controlling for other baseline factors.

RESULTS: Religiosity was found to both protect against and help individuals recover from depression. Individuals not depressed at baseline remained nondepressed 2 years later if they frequently attended religious services, whereas those depressed at baseline were less likely to be depressed at follow-up if they more frequently engaged in private prayer.

IMPLICATIONS: Findings suggest that both organizational and nonorganizational forms of religiosity affect depression outcomes in different circumstances (i.e., onset and recovery, respectively). Important strategies to prevent and relieve depression among older adults may include improving access and transportation to places of worship among those interested in attending services and facilitating discussions about religious activities and beliefs with clinicians.

User Guide Notes

Alternate JournalGerontologist
Citation Key8531
PubMed ID25063937