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Multiculturalism and Social Work | San Francisco State University

Health, mental health, and spirituality in chronically ill elders

Author: Burke, K.J.
Author Background: Univ. of Chicago
Date 2000
Type Dissertation
Journal Title:
Volume/Pages 36(1), No. 203
Subject Matter Aging; Chronic illness; Spirituality; Mental health; Health status
Abstract The relationship of spirituality to health and mental health is not well understood or described. This relationship could provide for greater understanding of the issues associated with the well being of chronically ill elders. In this study, 131 community-dwelling chronically ill rural elders were interviewed in their homes by the author. Data were gathered specific to measures of health, mental health, role, and spirituality. Findings include the very significant correlation between mental health and closeness to God, distinctions between religiosity and spirituality as they relate to mental health, and the importance of spirituality while coping with pain in chronic illness. These findings suggest that spirituality is an important component in chronically ill elders coping with disease, disability, and pain. Implications for social work practice and education are addressed and discussed.