The impact of religious practice and religious coping on geriatric depression

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2003 Oct;18(10):905-14. doi: 10.1002/gps.945.


Objective: Both religiousness and social support have been shown to influence depression outcome, yet some researchers have theorized that religiousness largely reflects social support. We set out to determine the relationship of religiousness with depression outcome after considering clinical factors.

Methods: Elderly patients (n=114) in the MHCRC for the Study of Depression in Late Life while undergoing treatment using a standardized algorithm were examined. Patients completed measures of public and religious practice, a modified version of Pargament's RCOPE to measure religious coping, and subjective and instrument social support measures. A geriatric psychiatrist completed the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) at baseline and six months.

Results: Both positive and negative religious coping were related to MADRS scores in treated individuals, and positive coping was related to MADRS six months later, independent of social support measures, demographic, and clinical measures (e.g. use of electro-convulsive therapy, number of depressed episodes). Public religious practice, but not private religious practice was independently related to MADRS scores at the time of completion of the religiousness measures. Religious coping was related to social support, but was independently related to depression outcome.

Conclusions: Clinicians caring for older depressives should consider inquiring about spirituality and religious coping as a way of improving depressive outcomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Religion*
  • Spirituality