Religious Belief, Religiosity and Mental Health in Context: An Analysis of Older Adult Depressive Symptoms across Latin America and the Caribbean

Kim Korinek, University of Utah
Nekehia T. Quashie, University of Utah
Ha N. Trinh, University of Utah

Although Latin America & the Caribbean (LAC) is one of the most religious areas of the world, few have examined religion and mental health in the region. In this paper we examine the relationship between religion, religiosity and depressive symptoms in seven cities of LAC. Parallel OLS regression analyses of Geriatric Depression Scale scores among adults age 60 and older, as reported in the 2000 Survey of Health, Well-Being and Aging in Latin America and the Caribbean (SABE), indicate the importance of social context in shaping the association between religious affiliation, religiosity and mental health. Strong religiosity is negatively associated with depression in relatively religious societies, whereas those with high religiosity in relatively secular settings (e.g., Havana) report more numerous depressive symptoms. Similarly, affiliation with Roman Catholicism enhances mental health in certain cities where the religion predominates, but positively predicts depressive symptoms where Catholicism is in the minority (e.g. Bridgetown).

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Presented in Session 68: Older Populations in the Americas: Determinants of Healthy Aging