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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2008 Nov;16(11):934-43. doi: 10.1097/JGP.0b013e3181871392.

The relationship between religiosity and tobacco, alcohol use, and depression in an elderly community population.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil.



The objective of this study is to examine the religious characteristics of older subjects and the associations of these characteristics to the use of tobacco, alcohol, and depression.


Data from a multistage random sample were used to examine associations between religiosity and health behaviors (tobacco use, alcohol) and depression among elderly house hold residents aged 60+ in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. Survey measures included sociodemographic characteristics, four aspects of religiosity, tobacco use, alcohol abuse and dependence, depression, life style, social context, functional status, and health conditions.


After controlling for demographic, social connections, health behavior, functional status, and health conditions, evangelical affiliation reduced the odds of being a current tobacco user by 51%. Those reporting affiliation as Afro-Brazilian and not having a religion had, respectively, a 74% and 124% increased risk. All other religious domains protect against tobacco use. Not having a religion affiliation and the experience of a religious change increased the risk of alcohol misuse by 88% and 31%, respectively. In contrast, orienting-motivating force increased the odds of depression by 38%. Participating in social religious activities had reduced the risk of depression by 16%.


Several aspects of religiosity reduced the odds of being a tobacco user. Not having a religion and the experience of a religious change increased the risk of alcohol misuse. However, the domain orienting-motivating force increased the odds, and participating in social religious activities had reduced the risk of a depressive state.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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