This research explored whether religiosity/spirituality and social support were being utilized as coping mechanisms among older inmates. Sixty-five inmates were surveyed (34 males, 31 females), ranging in age from 50 to 81 years; all were incarcerated five years or more. Participants were recruited from four different Ohio correctional facilities. Inmates completed a semi-structured questionnaire consisting of demographics and established measures of depression, along with open-ended questions related to health, family, religiosity/spirituality, and social support. Correlational analysis was conducted to examine if religiosity/spirituality and social support were associated with lower reported depressive symptomology. Results revealed that both inmates’ religiosity/spirituality and social support from fellow inmates were significantly and negatively related to depression (r = -.36, p = .01; r = -.31, p = .01, respectively). In addition, age was negatively related to depression (r = -.28, p = .02), suggesting that increasing age was associated with less depressive symptomology. According to Carstensen’s (1999) Socioemotional Theory, the older the individual is, the more likely that individual will seek supportive, meaningful, and sustaining relationships. In summary, supporting inmates’ religiosity/spirituality, while encouraging development of relationship building skills, may result in an increased quality of mental health for the aging inmate.
|Keywords:||Older Inmates, Depression, Religiosity/Spirituality, Social Support, Coping|
Assistant Professor, School of Health Sciences, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH, USA
Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA
Biedenharn Endowed Chair in Gerontology, Professor of Gerontology, Institute of Gerontology, Department of Gerontology, University of Louisiana, West Monroe, Louisiana, USA
Educator, Walton County Schools, Atlanta, GA, USA