All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Casey Borch

Advisory Committee Members

Kent R Kerley

Mark E Lagory

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2011

Degree Name by School

Master of Arts (MA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

Older Americans represent one of the most devout groups of religious people in America, yet research is consistently scarce on how to use this characteristic in mental health interventions. This study uses Ordinary Least Squares regression of a 2004, national sample of older Christian Americans to assess the relationship between private prayer, church attendance, prayer group participation, religious meaning, optimism, and depressive symptomology. Previous work has found a strong positive relationship between religion and health outcomes. The present endeavor goes beyond examining the main effects of such relationships to look at a possible moderating mechanism--optimism. Controlling for demographic variables and health, results provide some evidence for a moderating effect of optimism. Optimism was also found to have a strong direct effect on the health and some of the religious variables. These findings point to a need for both geriatric practitioners and clergy to take into account the optimism-providing aspects of religion as a source to alleviate depressive symptoms.

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