Social relationships in religious institutions and healthy lifestyles

Health Educ Behav. 2011 Feb;38(1):25-38. doi: 10.1177/1090198110370281. Epub 2010 Dec 17.


The purpose of this study is to see if encouragement from fellow church members helps older people develop and maintain healthy lifestyles. The findings indicate that informal church-based support is associated with healthy lifestyles among older African Americans but not older Whites. In addition, the influence of support from fellow church members on health behaviors is greater for study participants who closely identify with their congregations. The results further reveal that the adoption of healthy lifestyles is not associated with support from people outside the church nor is it linked to formal programs that churches provide to encourage good health behaviors. The theoretical and practice implications of these results are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans / psychology
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior / ethnology*
  • Health Promotion / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Life Style / ethnology*
  • Male
  • Religion*
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Support*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Whites / psychology