Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Int J Psychiatry Med. 1997;27(4):365-76.

Religious coping in the nursing home: a biopsychosocial model.

Author information

  • 1Duke University Medical Center, USA.



To examine psychosocial and physical health correlates of religious coping in medically ill chronically institutionalized older adults. Religious coping is defined as the extent to which persons use religious beliefs and practices to help them to cope.


This is a cross-sectional cohort study conducted in a 120 bed VA-affiliated and a 125 bed university affiliated community-based nursing home in Durham, North Carolina. Participants were 115 chronic care nursing home residents; mean age of the sample was seventy-nine years, 44 percent were women, and 17 percent were African Americans. Subjects were enrolled for a one-month period during which comprehensive psychosocial and health assessments were performed, including evaluation of cognitive function (Mini-Mental State Exam), physical function (Barthel index), severity of medical comorbidity (Cumulative Illness Rating Scale), self-reported physical pain (vertical verbal descriptor scale), depressive symptoms (Geriatric Depression Scale), social support (social network), and religious coping (Religious Coping Index).


Over 43 percent of the sample scored in the depressed range of the Geriatric Depression Scale. Almost 60 percent reported they used religion at least to a large extent when coping with their problems; 34 percent said that it was the most important factor that enabled them to cope. Patients who used religion to cope had greater social support (p = .01), more severe medical illness (p = .04), and better cognitive functioning (p = .02).


Religious beliefs and practices are frequently used by chronically institutionalized older adults to help them to cope. Religious coping is associated with more severe medical illness, higher social support, and better cognitive functioning.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk