Understanding the Effects of Religion on Depressive Symptoms Among Older Adults
Nunez, Juan Jose. “Understanding the Effects of Religion on Depressive Symptoms Among Older Adults”. MA, 2017.
A multiplicity of scholarly publications has found salutary associations between various aspects of religion and mental health, particularly depression. However, Hispanic older adults are seldom the focus of empirical studies analyzing these relationships. I fill that gap. Theories on the effects of church attendance, private prayer, religious coping, and religiosity on depression are developed and investigated. These analyses are based on a sample of older Mexican-origin individuals (N = 1,495). Data were obtained from the Hispanic Established Population for Epidemiological Studies of the Elderly (H-EPESE), a longitudinal survey. Results reveal an inverse association between moderate church attendance and depression that persists despite controls for social support, financial strain, and physical and mental impairment. An inverse association between higher levels of religiosity and depression and a direct association between higher levels of religious coping and depression also persisted beyond all controls. Findings suggest that the effects of religion on depression vary and are not always salutary. Methodological and theoretical implications, limitations, and future research directions are discussed.