Aging, health, and the "electronic church".
We tested whether elders substitute religious media use for church attendance when health declines (using multidimensional disengagement theory) with data from a multiracial, population-based sample in the Bible Belt (N = 2,971). In adjusted models, 3-year declines in functional status were significantly associated with concurrent reduction in frequency of church attendance but not with any change in rates of religious media (TV/radio) use. Age-related declines in church attendance were substantively explained by declining functional ability. Changes in religious media use were independent of age and less sensitive to declining functional status or service attendance than to cultural heritage such as race, socioeconomic status, and rural upbringing. Our data do not support the hypothesis that elders with deteriorating health substitute increased engagement with religious media as their participation in organizational religious activities is reduced. However, applicability of the substitution hypothesis to other dimensions of nonorganizational religiousness (e.g., prayer) awaits similar scrutiny.
Hays, JC; Landerman, LR; Blazer, DG; Koenig, HG; Carroll, JW; Musick, MA
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