Inflammation, often measured by C-reactive protein (CRP), is thought to be related to a number of debilitating illnesses as we age, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. Stress has also been implicated in these processes. This study examines potential protective effects of spirituality and religion in older adults who have experienced stressful life events. As part of the nationwide Landmark Study of Spirituality and Health, a subsample of 643 middle-aged and older adults (age ≥ 50) who were at or above the median in number of life stressors (≥ 2) was included in this analysis. Psychospiritual and religious (PS/R) variables included: religious service attendance, prayer, religious meaning, religious hope, general meaning, general hope and sense of peace. Control variables included: age, gender, education, BMI, smoking, alcohol use, social support. Only church attendance predicted significantly lower CRP after controlling for covariates, even above the other PS/R variables (standardized β = − 0.14, t = − 3.23 p = 0.001). Those with frequent religious service attendance were 38% less likely to have clinically elevated CRP than those who attend rarely or never. Religious service attendance may confer protection in older adults experiencing stressful events as it was significantly associated with lower CRP, an inflammatory marker associated with illness.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Religious studies