AIM: To examine the impact of perceived importance of spirituality or religion (ISR) and religious service attendance (RSA) on health and well-being in older Australians. METHODS: A cross-sectional survey of 752 community-dwelling men and women aged 55-85 years from the Hunter Region, New South Wales. RESULTS: Overall, 51% of participants felt spirituality or religion was important in their lives and 24% attended religious services at least 2-3 times a month. In univariate regression analyses, ISR and RSA were associated with increased levels of social support (P < 0.001). However, ISR was also associated with more comorbidities (incidence-rate ratio= 1.2, 95% confidence interval 1.08-1.33). There were no statistically significant associations between ISR or RSA and other measures such as mental and physical health. CONCLUSION: Spirituality and religious involvement have a beneficial impact on older Australians' perceptions of social support, and may enable individuals to better cope with the presence of multiple comorbidities later in life.
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