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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 36 (1994) 7

New research

Religiosity and depressive symptoms among elderly persons

A.W. Braam, A.T.F. Beekman, D.J.H. Deeg, W. van Tilburg

In this survey among 172 elder inhabitants (55-89) of Sassenheim, a semirural town in the Netherlands, the association between religiosity and depressive symptoms is examined. Religiosity is operationalized as religious salience: the importance of religion in one's personal life (Hoge 1985).

Both religious salience and depressive symptoms are significantly correlated with gender, marital status, income, age and chronic diseases. A negative association between religious salience and depressive symptoms appears when the mentioned factors are controlled for. Next, elderly with and without chronic diseases are considered separately. A negative association of religious salience with depressive symptoms is present only among those elderly with chronic diseases. This is an indication that religious salience has a buffering effect on the depressive effects of chronic diseases.