Revista Brasileira de Psiquiatria
Print version ISSN 1516-4446
CORREA, Alexandre Augusto Macêdo et al. Investigating the role played by social support in the association between religiosity and mental health in low income older adults: results from the São Paulo Ageing & Health Study (SPAH). Rev. Bras. Psiquiatr. [online]. 2011, vol.33, n.2, pp. 157-164. Epub Oct 15, 2010. ISSN 1516-4446. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1516-44462011000200011.
OBJECTIVE: Religiosity has been associated with mental health, especially in the elderly. There is a shortage of studies on the factors that mediate this association, including social support. The aim of this study was to assess the association between the various dimensions of religiosity and the prevalence of common mental disorders among the elderly, and to verify whether social support can work as a mechanism that explains such mediation. METHOD: The sample consisted of an elderly population living in a low income region of the city of São Paulo (N = 1,980). Data on the socio-demographic profile of this population and on the prevalence of common mental disorders were collected, and indicators of religiosity and social support were identified. RESULTS: 90.7% of the sample considered themselves to be religious. In terms of denomination, 66.6% were Catholic. Forty-one per cent attended some kind of religious activity at least once or more times a week. The presence of common mental disorders was not associated with religious affiliation or subjective religiosity. The prevalence of common mental disorders in followers attending religious services was approximately half (OR between 0.43 and 0.55, p < 0.001) compared to those who never attend a religious service. Attending religious services was associated with higher levels of social support. The association between a higher attendance frequency and fewer common mental disorders did not change after the inclusion of relevant of social support variables. CONCLUSION: The study showed that subjects presented high levels of religiosity and that there is a strong association between religious attendance and the prevalence of common mental disorders, which could not be explained by social support.
Keywords : Spirituality; Elderly; Mental health; Social support; Mental health.