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Religious Involvement and Mortality Risk among African American Adults


Ellison, Christopher G.; Hummer, Robert A.; Cormier, Shannon; & Rogers, Richard G. (2000). Religious Involvement and Mortality Risk among African American Adults. Research on Aging, 22(6), 630-667.


This article examines the effects of religious involvement on mortality risk among African Americans. The authors use a relatively new and innovative nationally representative data set—the National Health Interview Survey matched to the National Center for Health Statistics’ multiple cause of death file—to model this relationship. The results show that, compared with African Americans who attend religious services more than once a week, those who never attend are more than twice as likely to die during the nine-year follow-up period, even net of a large number of confounding and mediating factors. The strong effect of nonattendance on mortality risk is robust, pervasive, and remarkably strong across all subgroups of the population, whereas a moderate level of attendance is associated with higher mortality risk among young adults, men, and Southerners, but not among older adults, women, and non-Southerners. Among African Americans, lack of religious involvement appears to be associated with risk of premature death, whereas frequent religious involvement stands out as a critical protective factor that contributes to lower mortality and longer life.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Research on Aging


Ellison, Christopher G.
Hummer, Robert A.
Cormier, Shannon
Rogers, Richard G.