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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2005 Jul;60(4):P207-14.

Does religiousness buffer against the fear of death and dying in late adulthood? Findings from a longitudinal study.

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Department of Psychology, Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA 02482, USA.


We used longitudinal data (N = 155) to investigate the relation between religiousness and fear of death and dying in late adulthood. We found no linear relations between religiousness and fear of death and dying. Individuals who were moderately religious feared death more than individuals who scored high or low on religiousness. Fear of death also characterized participants who lacked congruence between belief in an afterlife and religious practices. We replicated the curvilinear relation between fear of death and religiousness in late adulthood with religiousness in middle adulthood, controlling for sociodemographic variables, life satisfaction, social support, and stressors. Older participants (in their mid-70s) who experienced more bereavement and illness feared the dying process less than younger participants (in their late 60s). The findings support the hypothesis that firmness and consistency of beliefs and practices, rather than religiousness per se, buffers against death anxiety in old age.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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