221218 Relationship between Spirituality and Health among Older Adults

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Marylen Rimando, PhD, MPH, CHES, CPH , Department of Health and Human Physiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
Stephanie Mathews, MPH, CHES , Cancer Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Group, University of Georgia College of Public Health, Athens, GA
Background: Spirituality involves relationships within the individual, between people, and the community. Spirituality may be viewed religiously and non-religiously, and difficult to article. A thorough understanding of spirituality is needed for health professionals working the spiritual older adult patients. Methods: An extensive literature review of the concept of spirituality, characteristics of spirituality, and the relationship between spirituality and health were conducted. Results: Characteristics of spirituality varied by discipline. From 1,600 scholarly publications on religion and health, approximately 75-90% reported positive relationships between religion and health, with most focusing on older adults. Spirituality can help older adults cope with life stressors such as one's imminent death, death of a spouse, isolation from family, anxiety, and depression. Most studies showed spirituality's positive effects for reduced coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, most cancers, and several health status indicators. However, the research designs of these studies included prospective, retrospective, cohort, but rarely experimental. Conclusions: Interpretations of these positive relationships should be made with caution. Unresolved gaps exist in the knowledge on spirituality and older adults. Gaps include dose response effects of religious factors and spirituality as moderating effects on health outcomes, and lack of reliable and valid measures of spirituality. Physicians and nurses treating older adults should be aware of and culturally sensitive to the varying spiritual beliefs of their older adult patients. If a patient initiates spirituality discussions, health professionals should consider incorporating spirituality intro treatments to improve health outcomes.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the relationship between spirituality and health among older adults. 2. List the positive effects of spirituality in terms of improving physical health.

Keywords: Faith Community, Health Promotion

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a doctoral candidate in Health Promotion and Behavior with interests in health promotion among older adults.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.