Association of Religious Participation with Health and Survival among the Oldest-Old in China
Yi Zeng, Duke University
Danan Gu, Duke University
Linda K. George, Duke University
Based on a unique longitudinal data set collected in 1998, 2000, and 2002 of the oldest-old aged 80-105 in China, we found that religious participants were significantly healthier than those who are non-participants, adjusting for demographic, family, social support/connection and health practice factors. The parametric survival model after correcting intra-subject correlations revealed that the overall risk of dying was 20% lower for the religious participants over a two-year follow-up period than for the non-participants, adjusted for demographic factors. The reduced risk was slightly lessened (17-18%) but remained statistically significant after controlling for family/social support and connections, and health practices. After the health conditions were added to the model as controlling variables, the beneficial effect of religious participation on survival was marginally significant. Separate models for the oldest old males and females indicate that the association between religious participation and health/survival was much stronger for women than for men.