Impact of Religion and Spirituality in Older Persons

  • Giancarlo Lucchetti
  • Luciano Magalhães Vitorino
  • Fabio Nasri
  • Alessandra Lamas Granero Lucchetti
Part of the Religion, Spirituality and Health: A Social Scientific Approach book series (RELSPHE, volume 4)


The world’s population is rapidly aging. This phenomenon imposes several challenges to the modern society, since the older population is very heterogeneous and the aging process is multifactorial and multidimensional. In order to adapt and cope with the physiological and pathological aspects of aging, older adults frequently use several coping mechanisms, including their spiritual and religious beliefs. This chapter will provide an overview on the relationship between spirituality/religiosity (S/R) and health in the aged; including the increase of spiritual/religious beliefs in older adults and the relationship between S/R and well-being, quality of life, social support, mental and physical health. We will also present the possible mechanisms for this relationship, the role of religious struggles and the clinical implications for geriatricians and gerontologists. In summary, there is a consolidated scientific production in this field, pointing to a generally positive influence of S/R on several health outcomes, such as lower levels of depression, better cognitive functioning, lower morbidity and mortality, better functional status and higher scores of quality of life and well-being. Nevertheless, some patients could have a negative influence of S/R on their medical outcomes (increasing mental health problems and even mortality). The mechanisms for this relationship are not totally elucidated and studies include cortisol levels, inflammatory and immunological markers. Health professionals dealing with older persons should be aware of the spiritual and religious beliefs of patients in order to provide a more comprehensive and holistic care.


Spirituality Religion and medicine Geriatrics Older adults 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Giancarlo Lucchetti
    • 1
  • Luciano Magalhães Vitorino
    • 1
  • Fabio Nasri
    • 2
    • 3
  • Alessandra Lamas Granero Lucchetti
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.School of MedicineFederal University of Juiz de ForaJuiz de ForaBrazil
  2. 2.Program of religiosity and Spirituality (PROSER) – Psychiatry InstituteUniversity of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Albert Einstein HospitalSão PauloBrazil
  4. 4.Research Group on Medical Education Federal University of Juiz de ForaJuiz de ForaBrazil

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