Methods: The parent study is a large, community, population-based cohort study designed to investigate risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD) in African American men and women. Major components of this study include medical history, physical examination, stress, coping, spirituality, racism and discrimination and socioeconomic position. For this paper, the secondary analysis included a total of 1303 participants over 55 year older out of total 5,301 participants. The rationale of variable selection for the hierarchical regression analysis is conceptual in nature, addressing the hypothesized effects of daily spiritual experience and religious coping and interpersonal support on helplessness and depressive symptoms including selected socioeconomic variables and chronic health condition.
Results Majority of older participants have multiple chronic health conditions (M=1.73, SD=1.13) such as Diabetes (25.5%), CVD (10.8%), Hypertension (78.6%), Kidney (17.8%), Asthma (12.2%), Lung (12.3%), Cancer (8.8%), and Stroke (7.1%). Descriptive statistics revealed the relatively higher symptoms of depression (M = 10.20, SD = 6.84) measured by the CES-D. With cut-off score of 16, 14.6% of respondents might be classified as “depressed”. The correlational analyses revealed that lower socio-economic factors, poorer chronic health conditions are all significantly associated with helplessness. Multiple regression analysis identified several significant predictors to the depressive symptoms (20.2% variance explained): The negative associations with education (t = -2.94) & Interpersonal support (t = -7.600) and positive relations with self-rated health (t = 5.499). Further, there is a significant relationship (t= -2.155) between the Daily Spiritual Experience Scale (DSES) and the depression (CES-D). Additionally, selected variables such education (t=-6.258), DSES (t=-2.891), religious coping (t= =4.147), and interpersonal support (t=-13.297) are significantly related with helplessness(R˛ =.246)
Implications It is found that majority of older African Americans are experiencing multiple chronic disease and a higher level of depression and despair in which immediate diagnosis and treatment is needed. Our findings are consistent with previous studies in that the study confirmed to find the empirical evidence the relations between religiosity/spirituality and mental health. Further, it is supported the significant mediating role of interpersonal support rather than social network to improved mental health condition. This study highlighted the enduring importance of supportive social relationships to psychological well-being among older African Americans.