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05.10.2018 | Original Paper

Does Religion Predict Health-Promoting Behaviors in Community-Dwelling Elderly People?

Journal of Religion and Health
Afsaneh Bakhtiari, Mohammadhadi Yadollahpur, Shabnam Omidvar, Saber Ghorbannejad, Fatemeh Bakouei


As the aging phenomenon gains importance in many societies, regular health-promoting activities by the elderlies become more crucial for disability reduction and their health promotion. Religious viewpoints and perspectives can have an influence on the individuals’ assessment of life events. Recent studies show a correlation between religiosity and mental health. However, there is limited number of studies on the relationship between religiosity and health behaviors, especially in elderly. The purpose of this research is to evaluate religion’s predictive power in health-improving behaviors of the elderly. This cross-sectional study was conducted on 316 community-dwelling elderly with the mean age of 67.9 ± 6.6 years, who were functionally independent without cognitive or mental impairments. Health-promoting lifestyle profile 2 assessment (HPLP2) and Alport questionnaires were used to assess health behaviors and religious orientation, respectively. Data analysis was performed by independent T test and multiple linear regression models with SPSS version 23. An internal religious orientation was found in 71 elderly; this accounts for 22.5% of the study population. Based on the health behavior scoring 154 individuals, 48.8% of the study population obtained a score of higher or equal to 139. These individuals were placed on third quartile and higher. Among the health behavior components, “the health responsibility” was the only component related to religious orientation [internal 25.1 ± 6.6 (P < 0.001, r = 0.78) vs. external 22.6 ± 6.5 (P > 0.05, r = 0.22)]. Based on the multiple linear regression models, no significant relationship was found between total health behavior score and religious orientation. However, a significant relationship existed between the participants’ health behaviors and some of their profile. The results indicate that despite good health behaviors in nearly half of the elderlies, no significant relationship was found between health behavior and religious orientation. The results suggest possible impact of other religion-related concepts including private religious behaviors, devotion, spiritual transcendence, religious adaptation, and religious traditions and experiences on the health behaviors. These concepts require further study for better understanding of their impact.

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