Religious service attendance and mortality among older Black men

Marino A. Bruce, Bettina M. Beech, Dulcie Kermah, Shanelle Bailey, Nicole Phillips, Harlan P. Jones, Janice V. Bowie, Elizabeth Heitman, Keith C. Norris, Keith E. Whitfield, Roland J. Thorpe

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Religious institutions have been responsive to the needs of Black men and other marginalized populations. Religious service attendance is a common practice that has been associated with stress management and extended longevity. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between religious service attendance and all-cause mortality among Black men 50 years of age and older. Data for this study were from NHANES III (1988–1994). The analytic sample (n = 839) was restricted to participants at least 50 years of age at the time of interview who self-identified as Black and male. Mortality was the primary outcome for this study and the NHANES III Linked Mortality File was used to estimate race-specific, non-injury-related death rates using a probabilistic matching algorithm, linked to the National Death Index through December 31, 2015, providing up to 27 years follow-up. The primary independent variable was religious service attendance, a categorical variable indicating that participants attended religious services at least weekly, three or fewer times per month, or not at all. The mean age of participants was 63.6±0.3 years and 36.4% of sample members reported that they attended religious services one or more times per week, exceeding those attending three or fewer times per month (31.7%), or not at all (31.9%). Cox proportional hazard logistic regression models were estimated to determine the association between religious service attendance and mortality. Participants with the most frequent religious service attendance had a 47% reduction of all-cause mortality risk compared their peer who did not attend religious services at all (HR 0.53, CI 0.35–0.79) in the fully adjusted model including socioeconomic status, non-cardiovascular medical conditions, health behaviors, social support and allostatic load.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0273806
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number9 September
StatePublished - Sep 2022


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