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The relationship of religiosity to older adults' mental health service use

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This article uses data from the Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC) Demonstration Project ( N =326) to examine older adults' utilization of mental health services. This study is guided by the behavioral model of health service utilization and helps to fill gaps in the literature by including religious affiliation, religiosity, and interaction terms as variables in regression models. These variables are important, as religion is more important in the lives of older adults than in the lives of their younger counterparts. This study found the rate of use of mental health services during the previous six months to be 19.0%, and those with higher levels of private religious activity and higher levels of intrinsic religiosity are more likely to have accessed some form of mental health service. However, frequency of attendance at religious services is not associated with the use or non-use of services. Information from this study suggests that more research is needed to specify the manner in which religious affiliation and religiosity work to affect the use of mental health services, and future studies must include religious variables in order for models of service use to be complete.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Social Work, University of Missouri-Saint Louis, Saint Louis, MO, USA

Publication date: 01 May 2006

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