Decision Editor: Merril Silverstein, PhD Changes in Church-Based Social Support Relationships During Older Adulthood
Contributor(s)The Pennsylvania State University CiteSeerX Archives
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AbstractObjectives. To track the course of age-related changes in emotional and tangible support given and received by older adults in the context of their religious congregations. Method. Hierarchical linear modeling was applied to data from a national sample of 1,192 White and African American older adults who attended church regularly, and they were interviewed up to four times over a period of seven years. Results. Changes were found in six measures of support. Participants increased in terms of the amount of emotional support that they both gave and received, whereas decreased in the amount of tangible support they gave and received. Satisfaction increased with age for both emotional and tangible support. There were large race-related differences, with African Americans being more engaged in support relationships of all types. Religious factors, including frequency of attendance, commitment, and the congregational cohesiveness were strong predictors of between-person differences. Discussion. This study is the first to demonstrate within-person change in church-based support relationships during the course of older adulthood. Patterns of increasing quantity and quality of emotional ties, but decreasing tangible sup-port, partially contrast with previous findings regarding secular support networks but are consistent with the socioemo-tional selectivity perspective. Key Words: Religion—Social support—Longitudinal methods.