TIME TRENDS IN THE ASSOCIATIONS OF RELIGIOUSNESS AND
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Objective: To estimate the associations between measures of religiousness and depression and to determine if these associations have changed over the period 1952 to 1992. Methods: Data were drawn from 2,398 individuals from the 1952 and 1992 cross sectional surveys of the Stirling County Study as a means of studying time trends. For this thesis, questions about frequency of religious worship attendance, frequency of saying grace, religious importance were employed to develop a scale of secularism. The individual questions and the scale were analyzed in terms of the prevalence of depression at each time point. Logistic regression was used to determine associations of depression with religion variables, adjusted for demographic and other covariates. Results: Individuals who attended religious services weekly were over two times less likely to meet criteria for depression than infrequent attenders and this relationship did not change over time. Associations between religious attendance and depression were stronger among women and the medically healthy compared to men and those with a medical condition. Being more secular was associated with higher odds of depression among females. Conclusions: Religious attendance has consistently been associated with lower depression over a forty year period, irrespective of marked declines in population-level religious behaviors. Associations between religiousness and depression may be stronger in females than in males.