Health Day - ONLINE EDITION

Religious Music a High Note for Older Christians

Reduced anxiety, other mental health benefits noted in survey

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WEDNESDAY, April 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Religious music may improve the mental health of older Christians, a new study finds.

Researchers examined survey data gathered from more than 1,000 English-speaking black and white adults across the United States who were at least 65 years old. They were either currently practicing Christians, had been Christians but no longer followed any religion, or had never been part of any faith group.

Among Christians, listening to religious music reduced their anxiety about death, and increased their life satisfaction, self-esteem and sense of control over their lives. Gospel music, in particular, was associated with less anxiety about death and a greater sense of control.

The findings were similar for blacks and whites, women and men, and poor and wealthier people, according to the study published online in the April issue of The Gerontologist.

"Religion is an important socioemotional resource that has been linked with desirable mental health outcomes among older U.S. adults. This study shows that listening to religious music may promote psychological well-being in later life," wrote Matt Bradshaw, of Baylor University in Waco, Tex., and colleagues.

"Given that religious music is available to most individuals -- even those with health problems or physical limitations that might preclude participating in more formal aspects of religious life -- it might be a valuable resource for promoting mental health later in the life course," they concluded.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about spirituality and health.

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