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Religious Attendance, Health Maintenance Beliefs, and Mammography Utilization: Findings from a Nationwide Survey of Presbyterian Women

The current study examines two questions: (1) Does church attendance influence mammogram utilization? and (2) Do aspects of religious ideology that are related to physical health status and health maintenance also play a role? The present study is also unique because it uses a nationally representative sample of Presbyterian (PCUSA) women. Previous research has shown that Protestants, mainline Protestants in particular, use more preventive services than members of other denominations (Benjamins 2005; Benjamins and Brown 2003). These findings have fueled a growing interest in the factors that may be driving the observed relationship between religious affiliation and preventive service utilization. Thus, the current study examines the relationship between religious attendance, health-related religious beliefs, and mammogram use within a sample of Presbyterian women.

 Researchers determined mammogram utilization as dependent variable while attendance at religious services indicated as independent variable.

 The current study finds that church attendance and religiously-based health maintenance beliefs are positively (though inconsistently) associated with the use of mammograms. Although the protective effects of at- attendance and beliefs are reduced in the multivariate models, several significant findings remain. Specifically, there are significant benefits associated with near-weekly attendance compared to less frequent attendance patterns. In addition, moderate support for the view that spiritual health and physical health are linked has a salutary effect on mammogram utilization.

 Looking at the key findings in more detail, the results indicate that women who attend services nearly every week are almost twice as likely to report having a mammogram as women who attend less frequently. Because moderate attendance is associated with a higher likelihood of reporting a mammogram, but more frequent attendance does not appear to be beneficial.

 The second key finding of this study is that religiously-motivated health beliefs are only inconsistently associated with mammography use. Specifically, while we proposed that women who held these beliefs would have higher rates of mammogram utilization (Hypotheses 2 and 3), only moderate agreement with the belief that spiritual health promotes physical health was associated with increased use of mammograms.

Link: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2006.00330.x

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