Religious Activity and Transitions in Functional Health and Mortality among Middle Aged and Older Adults in Taiwan

Mira M. Hidajat, University of Utah
Zachary Zimmer, University of Utah
Baai-Shyun Hurng, Bureau of Health Promotion, Taiwan
Hui-Sheng Lin, Taiwan National Institute of Family Planning

Although the importance of religious activity on the health and mortality of older persons has been well-established in countries where Judeo-Christian traditions are predominant, little research has examined the nature of the relationship in Asian countries where Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Taoism are predominant. These religions have very different practices from Judeo-Christian religions, which is a central element to the religion-health/mortality relationship in the West. In this paper we examine the effects of private and public religious practice and affiliation on transitions in physical functioning and mortality among elderly Taiwanese using a nationally representative longitudinal dataset spanning an eight year period. Our preliminary analyses indicate that persons with higher frequencies of religious activities tend to have lower risks of dying and higher probability of recovery from functional problems. Nevertheless, this relationship depends on previous health status. Consistent with previous research, we find some mediating effect of social/demographic factors.

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Presented in Poster Session 4