Religious involvement and depression in older Dutch citizens

A.W. Braam, A.T.F. Beekman, T.G. van Tilburg, D.J.H. Deeg, W. van Tilburg

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    It has been suggested that religiosity helps prevent depression in older people. This study examines the association between religious involvement and depression in older Dutch citizens and focuses on models of the mechanism in which religious involvement has an impact on other factors related to depression. The subjects were 2,817 older adults aged 55-85 years living in the community who participated in the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Religious involvement was assessed using items on frequency of church attendance and strength of church affiliation. Further data were collected on physical health, size of social network, social support, sense of mastery and self-esteem. As in North American studies, religious involvement appeared to be inversely associated with depression, both on symptom and syndrome levels. Controlling for sociodemographics, physical impairment and network support did not substantially affect this association, particularly among subjects aged 75-85 years. The inverse association between religious involvement and depression was not selectively more pronounced among older people with physical impairments. However, the association appeared to be most specific for subjects with a small social network and those with a low sense of mastery.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)284-291
    JournalSocial Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
    Publication statusPublished - 1997


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