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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2001 Nov;56(6):S365-73.

Functional limitations and religious service attendance in later life: barrier and/or benefit mechanism?

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Department of Sociology and Gerontology Program, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-1365, USA.



Why do some studies report a negative relationship between religious service attendance and functional limitations? Two possible mechanisms, the health benefit mechanism and the functional barrier mechanism, were systematically examined.


With 2 waves of a national probability sample of adults aged 60 years and older, this research used structural equation models to estimate the influence of these 2 mechanisms.


Results indicated that functional limitations were associated with less frequent religious service attendance at the same wave, largely because of the barrier mechanism; no support was found for the benefit mechanism. Neither mechanism was significant over time.


Findings suggest that there is a temporal and salient decline in social activities such as religious service attendance when lower body functional limitations are highest. However, long-term engagement in religious service attendance is not predicted by baseline functional limitations, indicating that there are not long-term declines in attendance because of higher levels of functional limitations.

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