Religiousness and health in Europe

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Recent research suggests that epidemiological forces in religion and health can have opposed effects. Using longitudinal data of people aged 50+ included in wave 1 (2004-2005) of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), and followed up through waves 2 (2006-2007), 4 (2011) and 5 (2013), we examined two forms of religious internalization and their association with health. Multivariate logistic regressions were used to examine all associations. Taking part in a religious organization was associated with lower odds of GALI (global activity limitation index) (OR = 0.86, 95% CI 0.75, 0.98) and depressive symptoms 0.80 (95% CI 0.69, 0.93), whereas being religiously educated lowered odds of poor self-rated health (SRH) 0.81 (95% CI 0.70, 0.93) and long-term health problems 0.84 (95% CI 0.74, 0.95). The more religious had lower odds of limitations with activities of daily living 0.76 (95% CI 0.58, 0.99) and depressive symptoms 0.77 (95% CI 0.64, 0.92) than other respondents, and compared to people who only prayed and did not have organizational involvement, they had lower odds of poor SRH 0.71 (95% CI 0.52, 0.97) and depressive symptoms 0.66 (95% CI 0.50, 0.87). Conversely, people who only prayed had higher odds of depressive symptoms than non-religious people 1.46 (95% CI 1.15, 1.86). Our findings suggest two types of religiousness: 1. Restful religiousness (praying, taking part in a religious organization and being religiously educated), which is associated with good health, and 2. Crisis religiousness (praying without other religious activities), which is associated with poor health.

JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number10
Pages (from-to)921-929
StatePublished - 2017

    Research areas

  • Activity limitations, Depression, Europe, Religiousness, Self-rated health
  1. Achieving world-class standards in all SHARE countries

    Project: ResearchHorizon 2020 project

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