Date of Conferral







Ellen Levine


Depression in the elderly population is a growing concern in the United States. A decrease in depression in the elderly could lead to greater quality of life and reduced cost of healthcare services. The Sense of Coherence Theory was utilized as the theoretical foundation for this study. The purpose of this study was to use archival data to analyze differences in depression scores by groups based on prayer (yes/no) and over time (wave 1/wave 2 of data collection) when controlling for amount of time spent in prayer by category, gender, and ethnicity. The data were retrieved from the National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging, which included interviews with adults aged 65 and over living in the coterminous United States. The first wave was collected in 2001 and consisted of 1,500 interviews. Wave 2 was collected in 2004 and consisted of 1,024 of the original participants. A mixed ANOVA was used to analyze the data. Results showed that change in depression over time differed depending on use of prayer after controlling for frequency of prayer. Comparisons of the 2 waves in the sample revealed that depression significantly decreased for people who prayed but not for people who did not pray. Implementing prayer as a supplemental form of treatment for depression may alter the way that some clinicians and providers conduct mental health treatment, reduce the emotional burden on families who are often the caretakers of the elderly, and become a cost-effective method of reducing depressive symptoms.