Background: This study examined the association between blood pressure (BP), selected health behaviors, and various dimensions of religiosity among females.
Methods: Data were obtained on 112 females who were at least 35 years of age and of Judeo-Christian faith. Resting BP measures were taken with an automated sphygmomanometer, height and weight were measured to determine body mass index (BMI), and intermediate health variables (e.g., physical activity, smoking, diet, and alcohol consumption) were measured by questionnaire. A multifactorial questionnaire was used to assess various dimensions of religiosity. Multiple regression path analyses were conducted to determine the direct and indirect effects of religiosity on BP with age and BMI controlled statistically.
Results: The direct effects of religiosity on SBP and DBP were more substantial than the indirect effects through the intermediate health variables, suggesting that religiosity may be associated with lower levels of BP via a direct pathway, such as improving the ability to cope with stress. In general, DBP was more influenced by religiosity than SBP and the dimensions of "intrinsic religiosity" and "religious coping" were most influential. Results also indicated that "religious experiences" may exert a greater beneficial effect on DBP in older (50-80 years) age groups.
Conclusions: These results support a direct relationship between religiosity and BP, rather than an indirect effect through intermediate health behaviors.