Daily spiritual experiences of older adults with and without arthritis and the relationship to health outcomes

Jeanne McCauley, Margaret J. Tarpley, Steffany Haaz, Susan J. Bartlett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective. Strategies to improve coping with chronic disease are increasingly important, especially with the aging US population. For many, spirituality serves as a source of strength and comfort. However, little is known about the prevalence of daily spiritual experiences (DSE) and how they may relate to physical and mental health. Methods. We surveyed older adults age >50 years with chronic health conditions seen in a primary care setting about their DSE, health perceptions, pain, energy, and depression. Results. Of 99 patients, 80% reported DSE most days and many times per day. Women had significantly lower DSE scores than men (reflecting more frequent DSE, mean ± SD 37.3 ± 15.0 versus 45.8 ± 17.5; P = 0.012). African American women reported the most frequent DSE and white men reported the least frequent DSE (mean ± SD 35.9 ± 13.6 versus 52.2 ± 19.1). Frequent DSE were significantly associated with a higher number of comorbid conditions (P = 0.003), although not with age, education, or employment status. Persons with arthritis reported significantly more DSE than those without arthritis (mean ± SD 35.2 ± 12.1 versus 47.1 ± 18.6; P < 0.001). After adjustment for age, race, sex, pain, and comorbid conditions, more frequent DSE were associated with increased energy (P < 0.009) and less depression (P < 0.007) in patients with arthritis. Conclusion. DSE are common among older adults, especially those with arthritis. Increased DSE may be associated with more energy and less depression. DSE may represent one pathway through which spirituality influences mental health in older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)122-128
Number of pages7
JournalArthritis Care and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 15 2008
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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