Religious activity improves life satisfaction for some physicians and older patients

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1999 Apr;47(4):453-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1999.tb07238.x.


Objective: To assess religious perceptions and activities of physicians and older patients and to determine whether religious activities are associated with life satisfaction.

Design and setting: A cross-sectional survey of practicing Virginia internists and psychiatrists and hospitalized or institutionalized (nursing home) older adults.

Participants: One hundred randomly sampled practicing physicians and 55 hospitalized or institutionalized older patients.

Methods: A mailed survey was used for the physicians and a structured interview for the patients. All subjects provided information pertaining to demographics and life satisfaction using the Life Satisfaction Index (LSI-B). For physicians or patients who engaged in any religious activity, the Intrinsic/Extrinsic Religiosity (I/E-R) scale was used.

Results: Of the 100 physicians (49 internists and 51 psychiatrists) who answered the survey (50% response rate), 75% used religious activity as a coping resource (39% somewhat, 36% definitely). There was a positive correlation between intrinsic religious activity (e.g., prayer, Bible reading) and life satisfaction (r = .293, P = .042). Of the 55 patients interviewed, 47 (86%) used religion as a coping resource, and intrinsic religious activity was positively associated with life satisfaction (r = .843, P < .001). Even after controlling for age, gender, health, and marital status, intrinsic religious activity remained a predictor of higher life satisfaction.

Conclusions: Intrinsic religious activity is associated positively with life satisfaction in physicians and ill older adults.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology*
  • Internal Medicine
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nursing Homes
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Psychiatry
  • Regression Analysis
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires