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J Aging Health. 2003 Aug;15(3):508-533.

Race, religion, and abstinence from alcohol in late life.

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  • 1Department of Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public Health, Univeristy of Michigan, Ann Arbor MI, USA.



This study aimed to see whether involvement in religion helps explain why older Blacks are more likely to avoid drinking alcohol than older Whites.


Interviews were conducted with a nationwide sample of older Whites and older Blacks. Survey items were administered to assess whether study participants consume alcohol, whether they affiliate with fundamentalist congregations, how often they attend religious services, how often they pray privately, and whether they derive a sense of meaning from their faith.


The findings reveal that older people who affiliate with fundamentalist churches and who find meaning in religion are more likely to avoid drinking. However, neither church attendance nor private prayer are related to alcohol use. Race differences in the odds of drinking were no longer statistically significant once the religion measures were added to the model.


The findings highlight the importance of religion in shaping the health behaviors of older adults.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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