Psychological Medicine

Original Article

Religious involvement and depressive symptoms in primary care elders

D. A. KINGa1 c1, J. M. LYNESSa1, P. R. DUBERSTEINa1, H. HEa2, X. M. TUa1a2 and D. B. SEABURNa1

a1 Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, USA

a2 Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, New York, USA

ABSTRACT

Background Multiple lines of evidence indicate relationships between religious involvement and depression, although the specific nature of the relationships is yet to be clarified. Moreover, there appear to be no well controlled longitudinal studies to date examining this issue in primary care elders.

Method The authors assessed the linear and non-linear relationships between three commonly identified types of religious involvement and observer-rated depressive symptoms in 709 primary care elders assessed at baseline and 1-year follow-up.

Results Cross-sectional analyses revealed a curvilinear, U-shaped association between depressive symptoms and organizational religious activity, an inverse linear relationship of depressive symptoms with private religious involvement, and a positive relationship of depressive symptoms with intrinsic religiosity. Longitudinal analyses revealed a U-shaped association between depressive symptoms and private religious involvement, such that those reporting moderate levels of private religiosity at baseline evidenced lower levels of depressive symptoms at 1-year follow-up than those reporting either high or low levels of private religious activity.

Conclusions The relationships between religious involvement and depression in primary care elders are complex and dependent on the type of religiosity measured. The authors found the strongest evidence for an association of non-organizational, private religious involvement and the severity of depressive symptoms, although further study is warranted using carefully controlled longitudinal designs that test for both linear and curvilinear relationships.

(Online publication May 14 2007)

Correspondence

c1 Address for correspondence: Deborah A. King, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, 300 Crittenden Blvd, Rochester, NY 14642, USA. (Email: deborah_king@urmc.rochester.edu)

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