Religion and preventative health care utilization among the elderly

Soc Sci Med. 2004 Jan;58(1):109-18. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(03)00152-7.


Evidence supporting a relationship between religion and physical health has increased substantially in the recent past. One possible explanation for this relationship that has not received much attention in the literature is that health care utilization may differ by religious involvement or religious denomination. A nationally representative sample of older adults was used to estimate the effects of religious salience and denomination on six different types of preventative health care (i.e. flu shots, cholesterol screening, breast self-exams, mammograms, pap smears, and prostate screening). Findings show that both men and women who report high levels of religiosity are more likely to use preventative services. Denominational differences show that affiliated individuals, especially those who are Jewish, are significantly more likely to use each type of preventative care than non-affiliated individuals. The results of this study open the door to further exploration of this potentially important, but relatively neglected, link between religion and health.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Catholicism
  • Diagnostic Tests, Routine / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Services for the Aged / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Jews / psychology
  • Jews / statistics & numerical data
  • Logistic Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Preventive Health Services / classification
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Protestantism
  • Religion and Psychology*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States