Background Taking into account the prevalence of religiosity in the population of Polish older people inclusion of religiosity measures in mental health research is needed. The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between religious involvement and mental health in older age.
Methods The sample population consisted of 350 randomly selected people aged 65 and over, living in Krakow. Religiosity was measured by assessing the following dimensions: ritualistic, experiential, ideological, consequential and intellectual. Religious coping and support were also measured. Health was assessed using SF-20, HADS, Will-to-live, DUKE Social Support and Loneliness Scales. Statistical analysis was done using K-means cluster analysis and multivariate regression analysis.
Results Two clusters were extracted in cluster analysis: cluster 1 (those who scored higher on each dimension of religiosity, ie, more religiously involved) and cluster 2 (less involved). Multivariate linear regression analysis showed that those more involved had better mental health (β=0.182), were less depressed (β=−0.236) and had more will to live (β=0.186) in comparison with those less involved. Regression analysis for particular dimensions of religiosity showed that consequential and experiential dimension significantly influenced the level of depression (β=−0.202 and −0.185 respectively); consequential dimension also influenced mental health (β=0.228). Respondents who were engaged in positive religious coping responses had better mental health than those who didn't (β=0.240). Emotional support provided, received and anticipated from the members of religious congregation decreased the level of social loneliness (β=−0.229, −0.238 and −0.313 respectively).
Conclusions Religious involvement is a significant predictor of mental health in older age.