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Health Psychol. 2009 Jan;28(1):117-24. doi: 10.1037/a0012984.

A prospective study of church attendance and health over the lifespan.

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  • 1Family Research Center, Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System, Menlo Park, CA 94025, USA.



The objective of the current study was to help clarify the previously ambiguous results concerning the relationship between church attendance and later physical health.


The current study examined the effect of church attendance on 4 different indicators of later health in a sample of inner city men followed throughout their lifecourse. Measures of previous health status, mood, substance abuse, smoking, education, and social class were used as covariates in regression analyses predicting health at age 70 from church attendance at age 47.


Health at age 70 was assessed by 4 indicators: mortality, objective physical health, subjective physical health, and subjective well-being.


Though church attendance was related to later physical health, this was only through indirect means, as both physical health and church attendance were associated with substance use and mood. However, findings do suggest a more direct link between church attendance and well-being.


Indirect effects of church attendance on health were clearly observed, with alcohol use/dependence, smoking, and mood being possible mediators of the church attendance-health relationship. The effects of church attendance on more subjective ratings of health, however, may be more direct.

(c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved.

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