The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of different religious activities and religious coping on depressive symptoms over time among elderly persons in Taiwan. Longitudinal data for 3,537 Taiwanese elderly persons from 1999 and 2003 were used. Hierarchical linear modeling was used for analysis. The study found that some religious activities, such as praying or reading scriptures, could reduce depressive symptoms over time, but more religious coping might accompany more depressive symptoms. In conclusion, religious activities may be beneficial to mental health. The praying behaviors of religious activities and religious coping are more like a coping mechanism rather than a characteristic of spiritual well being.
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