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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2002 Mar;57(2):S96-S107.

Religion, death of a loved one, and hypertension among older adults in Japan.

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School of Public Health and Institute of Gerontology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-2029, USA.



To see whether three dimensions of religion (private religious practices, religious coping, and belief in the afterlife) buffer the effect of the death of a significant other on change in self-reported hypertension over time.


Interviews were conducted with a nationally representative sample of people aged 60 and older in Japan at two points in time, 1996 and 1999. Complete data were available on 1,723 older Japanese. Respondents were asked a series of questions about their religious beliefs and practices, whether a family member or close friend had died in the past year, and whether they had hypertension.


The data suggest that older adults in Japan who experienced the death of a loved one but who believed in a good afterlife were less likely to report they had hypertension at the follow-up interview than elderly people in Japan who lost a close other but did not believe in a good afterlife.


The results suggest how one overlooked dimension of religion (i.e., religious beliefs) may bolster the health of older people in the face of adversity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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