The relationship between religious activities and cigarette smoking in older adults.
BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between religious activities and cigarette smoking in community-dwelling older adults. METHODS: Cigarette smoking and religious activities were assessed in a probability sample of 3968 persons age 65 years or older participating in the Duke Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (EPESE) survey. Participants were asked if they currently smoked, if they ever smoked, and how many cigarettes per day they smoked. Attendance at religious services, participation in private religious activities (prayer or Bible study), and use of religious media (religious TV or radio) were also assessed. Data were available for Waves I-III of the survey (1986, 1989, and 1992). Analyses were controlled for age, race, sex, education, alcohol use, physical health, and in the longitudinal analyses, smoking status at prior waves. RESULTS: Cross-sectional analyses revealed that participants who frequently attended religious services were significantly less likely to smoke cigarettes at all three waves. Likewise, elders frequently involved in private religious activity were less likely to smoke (Waves II and III). Total number of pack-years smoked was also inversely related to both attendance at religious services and private religious activities. Watching religious TV or listening to religious radio, on the other hand, was not related to smoking at Waves I and II nor to total pack-years smoked, but was positively related to current smoking at Wave III. Among those who smoked, number of cigarettes smoked was inversely related to frequency of attendance at religious services (Wave I), private religious activities (Wave III), and religious TV/radio (Waves II and III). Retrospective and prospective analyses revealed that religiously active persons were less likely to ever start smoking, not more likely to quit smoking. CONCLUSIONS: Religiously active persons are less likely to smoke cigarettes, and if they do smoke, smoke fewer cigarettes. Given the association between smoking and disease, and the widespread prevalence of both smoking and religious activity, this finding has implications for public health.
Koenig, HG; George, LK; Cohen, HJ; Hays, JC; Larson, DB; Blazer, DG
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