Religion and Female Preventive Service Utilization in a Nationally Representative Sample of Older Adults

Maureen R. Benjamins, University of Texas at Austin

Despite the many benefits of preventive services, they are often underutilized. Social factors, such as religion, can figure prominently in these discrepancies by either creating barriers or facilitating use. Using data from the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), the current study examines the relationship between religious attendance, salience, and denomination and three female preventive services. The results indicate that women who attend religious services more frequently use more preventive services. Denominational differences also exist. In general, women belonging to Mainline Protestant or Jewish denominations use more services than Evangelical Protestants. Furthermore, women with higher levels of salience report greater utilization of breast exams. These findings add to the growing literature on religion and health by illuminating a possible mechanism that may help to explain the association between religion and physical health. This study also adds important information to the public health literature concerning factors that influence preventive service use.

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Presented in Session 137: Health Behaviors