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Aging Ment Health. 2011 Jan;15(1):97-102. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2010.501069.

Correlates of spirituality in older women.

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Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, 92093, USA.



The role of spirituality in the context of mental health and successful aging is not well understood. In a sample of community-dwelling older women enrolled at the San Diego site of the Women's Health Initiative study, we examined the association between spirituality and a range of variables associated with successful cognitive and emotional aging, including optimism, resilience, depression, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL).


A detailed cross-sectional survey questionnaire on successful aging was completed by 1973 older women. It included multiple self-reported measures of positive psychological functioning (e.g., resilience and optimism), as well as depression and HRQoL. Spirituality was measured using a five-item self-report scale constructed using two items from the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiosity/Spirituality and three items from Hoge's Intrinsic Religious Motivation Scale.


Overall, 40% women reported regular attendance in organized religious practice, and 53% reported engaging in private spiritual practices. Several variables were significantly related to spirituality in bivariate associations; however, using model testing, spirituality was significantly associated only with higher resilience, lower income, lower education, and lower likelihood of being in a marital or committed relationship.


Our findings point to a role for spirituality in promoting resilience to stressors, possibly to a greater degree in persons with lower income and education level. Future longitudinal studies are needed to confirm these associations.

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