The buffering role of religiousness and spiritual seeking on senseof control amongolderadults in poor physical health


Objectives: This cross-sectional study examined the effect of church centered religiousness and non-church centered spiritual seeking on sense of control as a function of physical health and gender. Methods: The participants, mostly white, Protestant, and middle class, were members of a community-based sample of men and women born in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1920s and assessed in 1997-2000 when they were either in their late 60s or mid 70s. Results: Three-way ANOVAs indicated that both religiousness and spiritual seeking buffered women, but not men, against loss of sense of control due to poor physical health even after controlling for social support and overlap between the two measures of religious involvement. The lowest levels of personal control characterized the low-religiousness-poor physical health and the low-spiritual seekingpoor physical health groups. Additional analyses indicated that the buffering effect of religiousness and spiritual seeking was associated with different psychological characteristics: high life satisfaction for religiousness and engagement in life review for spiritual seeking. For men, the absence of a buffering effect of either religiousness or spiritual seeking was associated with disengagement from involvement in daily activities. Conclusions: The small but significant tendency of women to have a lower level of sense of control than men has challenged researchers to identify conditions under which the pattern is reversed. The confluence of religiousness/spiritual seeking and poor physical health constitutes one such domain of functioning.



Publication Date


Journal Title

Role of Faith in the Well-Being of Older Adults : Linking Theories with Evidence in an Interdisciplinary Inquiry


Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Document Type

Book Chapter


© 2009 Nova Science Publishers, Inc.