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JOURNAL ARTICLE

Correlates of spirituality in older women

Ipsit V Vahia, Colin A Depp, Barton W Palmer, Ian Fellows, Shahrokh Golshan, Wesley Thompson, Matthew Allison, Dilip V Jeste
Aging & Mental Health 2011, 15 (1): 97-102
20924814

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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