Background: The well-being of older, widowed persons is of concern to aging practitioners, including those in faith-based organizations. Some have suggested that engaging in religious/spiritual activities may mitigate the negative effects of widowhood for older adults. This cross-sectional study examined predictors of self-assessed well-being of widowed and married elders. The aim of this study was to determine whether participation in religious/spiritual activities mediated the relationship between marital status and well-being after controls were instituted. Method: This study is a secondary analysis of data collected for the National Opinion Research Center's 1998 General Social Survey. Analyses are based on 150 married and 120 widowed persons aged 60 or older. We regressed married/widowed status, demographic characteristics, self-reported health, and four measures of religious/spiritual activity on a four-item index of self-assessed well-being. Results: Widowed elders reported lower levels of well-being than married elders, even after we controlled for sociodemographic characteristics, self-perceived health, and measures of religious/spiritual activity. Socioeconomic status (SES) and self-perceived health had positive relationships with well-being, and frequency of prayer had a negative relationship with well-being. Conclusion: Congregations wishing to improve well-being among widowed and married elders should consider focusing on ministries to improve financial well-being and health and advocacy for programs that benefit low income elders. Church-based programs targeting widowed elders should focus on positive religious coping and prayer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Religious studies
- Life-span and Life-course Studies