Religious attendance and biological functioning: A multiple specification approach

Terrence D. Hill, Sunshine M. Rote, Christopher G. Ellison, Amy M. Burdette

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations


Objective: This study explores the role of religious attendance across a wide range of biological markers. Method: The data are drawn from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project to assess continuous and categorical biomarker specifications. Results: Across specifications, higher levels of attendance are associated with lower levels of pulse rate and overall allostatic load. Depending on the specification, higher levels of attendance are also associated with lower levels of body mass, diastolic blood pressure, C-reactive protein, and Epstein-Barr virus. Attendance is unrelated to dehydroepiandrosterone, systolic blood pressure, and glycosylated hemoglobin across specifications. Discussion: The study confirms that religious attendance is associated with healthier biological functioning in later life. Additional research is needed to verify these patterns with other data sources and to test viable mediators of the association between religious attendance and biological risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)766-785
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Aging and Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 2014


  • allostatic load
  • biological risk
  • religion
  • religious attendance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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