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Correlates of spirituality in older women

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Introduction: The role of spirituality in the context of mental health and successful aging is not well understood. In a sample of community-dwelling older women enrolled at the San Diego site of the Women's Health Initiative study, we examined the association between spirituality and a range of variables associated with successful cognitive and emotional aging, including optimism, resilience, depression, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Methods: A detailed cross-sectional survey questionnaire on successful aging was completed by 1973 older women. It included multiple self-reported measures of positive psychological functioning (e.g., resilience and optimism), as well as depression and HRQoL. Spirituality was measured using a five-item self-report scale constructed using two items from the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiosity/Spirituality and three items from Hoge's Intrinsic Religious Motivation Scale. Results: Overall, 40% women reported regular attendance in organized religious practice, and 53% reported engaging in private spiritual practices. Several variables were significantly related to spirituality in bivariate associations; however, using model testing, spirituality was significantly associated only with higher resilience, lower income, lower education, and lower likelihood of being in a marital or committed relationship. Conclusions: Our findings point to a role for spirituality in promoting resilience to stressors, possibly to a greater degree in persons with lower income and education level. Future longitudinal studies are needed to confirm these associations.
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Keywords: elderly; religiosity; resilience; spirituality; successful aging

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, University of California, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA,Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, CA 92093, USA 2: Department of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego, CA 92093, USA 3: Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of California, San Diego, CA 92093, USA

Publication date: 01 January 2011

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