Advertisement

Religion and Health in Rural Malawi

  • Jacob KendallEmail author
Original Paper
  • 15 Downloads

Abstract

While research has found important links between religion and health, there is a gap in knowledge in sub-Saharan Africa. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between religion and health in rural Malawi. After controlling for baseline health, results show that: (1) the relationship differs between younger (15–44 years) and older (45 + years) adults; (2) among younger adults, Muslims are relatively less healthy, whereas Muslims are healthier in older age; (3) religious activities have a stronger relationship with health than do other measures, especially for women; and (4) religious activities have a relationship with health only for two or more activities. These findings suggest that religion is tied to health in Malawi, especially for older women. This paper was originally presented at the European Conference on African Studies in June 2017.

Keywords

Malawi Aging Health Religion 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH) has been supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Development (Grant Nos. R03 HD058976, R21 HD050652, R01 HD044228, R01 HD053781), the National Institute on Aging (Grant No. P30 AG12836), the Boettner Center for Pensions and Retirement Security at the University of Pennsylvania, and the National Institute of Child Health and Development Population Research Infrastructure Program (Grant No. R24 HD-044964). The MLSFH has also been supported by pilot funding received through the Penn Center for AIDS Research (CFAR), supported by NIAID AI 045008, and the Penn Institute on Aging. This paper is a reworked version of an earlier paper presented at the European Conference on African Studies in Basel, Switzerland, in 2017. (The author gratefully acknowledges comments from Philip Anglewicz at Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, and Katrien Pype at the Catholic University of Leuven in Leuven, Belgium.)

References

  1. Adams, J., & Trinitapoli, J. (2009). The Malawi Religion Project: Data collection and selected analyses. Demographic Research, 21(4), 255–288.Google Scholar
  2. Afolabi, F. J., & Aina, O. O. (2014). Gender differentials in subjective well-being among religious elderly Yoruba people in southwest Nigeria. Ageing International, 39, 180–193.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12126-014-9197-8.Google Scholar
  3. Bazant, E. S., & Boulay, M. (2007). Factors associated with religious congregation members’ support to people living with HIV/AIDS in Kumasi, Ghana. AIDS Behavior, 11, 936–945.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10461-006-9191-6.Google Scholar
  4. Benjamins, M. R., & Brown, C. (2004). Religion and preventative health care utilization among the elderly. Social Science and Medicine, 58, 109–118.  https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-9536(03)00152-7.Google Scholar
  5. Chen, H., Cheal, K., McDonel Herr, E. C., & Zubrinsky, C. (2007). Religious participation as a predictor of mental health status and treatment outcomes in older persons. International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 22(144–153), 144–153.  https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.1704.Google Scholar
  6. Chin, B. (2010). Income, health, and well-being in rural Malawi. Demographic Research, 23(35), 997–1030.Google Scholar
  7. Cliggett, L. (2005). Grains from grass: Aging, gender, and famine in rural Africa. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Corsentino, E. A., Collins, N., Sachs-Ericsson, N., & Blazer, D. G. (2009). Religious attendance reduces cognitive decline among older women with high levels of depressive symptoms. Journals of Gerontology. Series A, Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 64(12), 1283–1289.  https://doi.org/10.1093/gerona/glp116.Google Scholar
  9. Crimmins, E. M., Hayward, M. D., Hagedorn, A., Saito, Y., & Brouard, N. (2009). Change in disability-free life expectancy for Americans 70 years old and older. Demography, 46(3), 627–646.Google Scholar
  10. Deaton, A. S. (2009). Aging, religion, and health. National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc. NBER Working papers: 15271. Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w15271.pdf.
  11. Ellison, C. G. (1991). Religious involvement and subjective well-being*. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 32, 80–99.Google Scholar
  12. Englund, H. (2002). The village in the city, the city in the village: Migrants in Lilongwe. Journal of Southern African Studies, 28(1), 137–154.  https://doi.org/10.1080/03057070120117015.Google Scholar
  13. Filmer, D., & Pritchett, L. H. (2001). Estimating wealth effects without expenditure data-or tears: An application to educational enrollments in states of India*. Demography, 38(1), 115–132.Google Scholar
  14. Freeman, E., & Anglewicz, P. (2012). HIV prevalence and sexual behaviour at older ages in rural Malawi. International Journal of STD and AIDS, 23(7), 490–496.Google Scholar
  15. Gandek, B., Ware, J. E., Aaronson, N. K., Apolone, G., Bjorner, J. B., Brazier, J. E., et al. (1998). Cross-validation of item selection and scoring for the SF-12 health survey in nine countries: Results from the IQOLA project. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 51(11), 1171–1178.Google Scholar
  16. Gilliland, D. S. (1986). How “Christian” are African independent churches. Missiology: An International Review, 14(3), 259–272.Google Scholar
  17. Hoddinott, J. (1992). Rotten kids or manipulative parents: Are children old age security in Western Kenya? Economic Development and Cultural Change, 40(3), 545–565. http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/EDCC/home.html.
  18. Hoddinott, J. (1993). Family size and support to the elderly in western Kenya. In C. B. Lloyd (Ed.), Fertility, family size, and structure: Consequences for families and children (pp. 41–73). New York, NY: Population Council.Google Scholar
  19. Hybels, C. F., Blazer, D. G., George, L. K., & Koenig, H. G. (2012). The complex association between religious activities and functional limitations in older adults. The Gerontologist, 52(5), 676–685.Google Scholar
  20. Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation. (2013). GBD Profile: Malawi. In G. B. O. Disease (Ed.), Global burden of diseases, injuries, and risk factors study 2010 (pp. 1–4). Seattle, WA: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.Google Scholar
  21. Jenkins, P. (2006). The new face of christianity: Believing the bible in the global south. New York, NY: Oxford University Press Inc.Google Scholar
  22. Kaseke, E. (2005). Social security and older people: An African perspective. International Social Work, 48(1), 89–98.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0020872805048711.Google Scholar
  23. Kendall, J., & Anglewicz, P. (2016). Living arrangements and health at older ages in rural Malawi. Ageing and Society.  https://doi.org/10.1017/S0144686X16001422.Google Scholar
  24. Kendall, J., & Anglewicz, P. (2017). Characterizations associated with migration among older women and men in rural Malawi. Illness, Crisis and Loss, 25(21), 283.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1054137317723102.Google Scholar
  25. Kodzi, I. A., Gyimah, S. O., Emina, J. B., & Ezeh, A. C. (2011a). Religious involvement, social engagement, and subjective health status of older residents of informal neighborhoods of Nairobi. Journal of Urban Health, 88, 370–380.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-010-9482-0.Google Scholar
  26. Kodzi, I. A., Gyimah, S. O., Emina, J. B., & Ezeh, A. C. (2011b). Understanding ageing in sub-Saharan Africa: Exploring the contributions of religious and secular social involvement to life satisfaction. Ageing and Society, 31(3), 455–474.Google Scholar
  27. Koenig, H. G., & Larson, D. B. (1998). Use of hospital services, religious attendance, and religious affiliation. Southern Medical Journal, 91(10), 925–932.Google Scholar
  28. Kohler, H.-P., Watkins, S. C., Behrman, J. R., Anglewicz, P., Kohler, I. V., Thornton, R. L., et al. (2015). Cohort profile: The Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH). International Journal of Epidemiology, 44(2), 394–404.  https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyu049.Google Scholar
  29. Lutgendorf, S. K., Russell, D., Ullrich, P., Harris, T. B., & Wallace, R. (2004). Religious Participation, Interleukin-6, and mortality in older adults. Health Psychology, 23(5), 465–475.  https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-6133.23.5.465.Google Scholar
  30. Martin, K. R., & Levy, B. R. (2006). Opposing trends of religious attendance and religiosity in predicting elders’ functional recovery after an acute myocardial infarction. Journal of Religion and Health, 45(3), 440–451.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-006-9037-6.Google Scholar
  31. Mberu, B. U., Ezeh, A. C., Chepngeno-Langat, G., Kimani, J., Oti, S., & Beguy, D. (2013). Family ties and urban–rural linkages among older migrants in Nairobi informal settlements. Population, Space and Place, 19, 275–293.  https://doi.org/10.1002/psp.1711.Google Scholar
  32. Musick, M. A., Blazer, D. G., & Hays, J. C. (2000). Religious activity, alcohol use, and depression in a sample of elderly Baptists. Research on Aging, 22(2), 91–116.Google Scholar
  33. Myroniuk, T., & Anglewicz, P. (2015). Social participation and health in rural Malawi. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 56(4), 552–573.Google Scholar
  34. National Statistical Office (NSO), & ICF. (2017). Malawi Demographic and Health Survey 20152016. Retrieved from Zomba, Malawi and Rockville, Maryland, USA.Google Scholar
  35. Obtel, M., Rhazi, K. E., Elhold, S., Benjelloune, M., Gnatiuc, L., & Nejjari, C. (2013). Cross-cultural adaptation of the 12-Item Short-Form survey instrument in a Moroccan representative survey. South African Journal of Epidemiology and Infection, 28(3), 166–171.Google Scholar
  36. Park, H. K., Chun, S. Y., Choi, Y., Lee, S. Y., Kim, S. J., & Park, E.-C. (2015). Effects of social activity on health-related quality of life according to age and gender: An observational study. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 13(140), 1–9.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12955-015-0331-4.Google Scholar
  37. Payne, C. F., Mkandawire, J., & Kohler, H.-P. (2013). Disability transitions and health expectancies among adults 45 years and older in Malawi: A cohort-based model. PLoS Medicine, 10(5), 1–15.  https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001435.Google Scholar
  38. Peltzer, K., & Pengpid, S. (2012). Alcohol use and health-related quality of life among hospital outpatients in South Africa. Alcohol and Alcoholism, 47(3), 291–295.  https://doi.org/10.1093/alcalc/ags001.Google Scholar
  39. Pfeiffer, J. (2004). Civil society, NGOs, and the holy spirit in Mozambique. Human Organizations, 63(3), 359–372.  https://doi.org/10.17730/humo.63.3.wr0rc09qeyafn84l.Google Scholar
  40. Pfeiffer, J. (2005). Commodity Feticismo, the Holy spirit, and the turn to pentecostal and African independent churches in central Mozambique. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, 29, 255–283.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-005-9168-3.Google Scholar
  41. Reniers, G. (2003). Divorce and remarriage in rural Malawi. Demographic Research, 1(6), 175–206.  https://doi.org/10.4054/DemRes.2003.S1.6.Google Scholar
  42. Stark, R. (1996). Religion as context: Hellfire and delinquency one more time. Sociology of Religion, 57(2), 163–173.Google Scholar
  43. Strawbridge, W. J., Cohen, R. D., Shame, S. J., & Kaplan, G. A. (1997). Frequent attendance at religious services and mortality over 28 Years. American Journal of Public Health, 87(6), 957–961.Google Scholar
  44. Trinitapoli, J. (2006). Religious responses to aids in sub-saharan Africa: An examination of religious congregations in rural Malawi. Review of religious research, 47(3), 253–270.Google Scholar
  45. Trinitapoli, J. (2011). The AIDS-related activities of religious leaders in Malawi. Global Public Health, 6(1), 41–55.  https://doi.org/10.1080/17441692.2010.486764.Google Scholar
  46. Trinitapoli, J., & Regnerus, M. D. (2006). Religion and HIV risk behaviors among married men: Initial results from a study in rural sub-Saharan Africa. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 45(4), 505–528.  https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2006.00325.x.Google Scholar
  47. Trinitapoli, J., & Regnerus, M. (2007). AIDS Related stigma in sub-Saharan Africa: Reconsidering Its Prevalence and Sources. In Conference papersAmerican Sociological Association (Vol. 1).Google Scholar
  48. Trinitapoli, J., & Weinreb, A. (2012). Religion and AIDS in Africa. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  49. UNDP. (2010). The real wealth of nations: Pathways to human development. In Human development report (Vol. 20th Anniversary edn, pp. 1–229). New York, NY: United Nations Development Programme.Google Scholar
  50. United Nations. (2015). World population prospects: The 2015 Revision, Key findings and advance tables. In Working paper no. ESA/P/WP.241: United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division.Google Scholar
  51. Ware, J. E., Jr., Kosinski, M., & Keller, S. D. (1996). A 12-item Short-Form health survey: Construction of scales and preliminary tests of reliability and validity. Medical Care, 34(3), 220–233.Google Scholar
  52. Yeatman, S. E., & Trinitapoli, J. (2008). Beyond denomination: The relationship between religion and family planning in rural Malawi. Demographic Research, 19, 1851–1881.Google Scholar
  53. Zhang, W. (2008). Religious participation and mortality risk among the oldest old in China. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 63B(5), S293–S297.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of International and Global StudiesMercer UniversityMaconUSA

Personalised recommendations