There is widespread literature linking church attendance to physical health. However, little is known about the association of church attendance and the immune system, particularly during difficult life transitions. This study investigated the association between church attendance and CMV herpes-virus latency by assessing Cytomegalovirus (CMV) IgG antibody titers among bereaved and nonbereaved individuals. Participants included 44 bereaved individuals and 44 controls, with a mean age of 68 (SD = 12.84). CMV herpes-virus latency was measured using CMV IgG antibody titers. Church attendance was measured using 3 items from the Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Seniors (CHAMPS) Questionnaire. After adjusting for participant's age, gender, education, minority status, weekly alcohol consumption, smoking, depression, body mass index (BMI) and comorbidities, church attendance was associated with lower CMV IgG antibody titers among bereaved and control participants. Furthermore, there was a significant moderating effect of church attendance in the association between bereavement status and CMV IgG antibody titers, so that bereaved individuals attending church were found to have less herpes-virus reactivation (lower CMV IgG antibody titers) when compared to their bereaved counterparts that do not attend church. This study demonstrated that church attendance is associated with less herpes-virus reactivation as indexed by lower levels of CMV IgG antibody titers, particularly among the bereaved. Future studies should focus on further understanding the pathways by which church attendance impacts CMV herpes-virus latency during stressful life events, such as bereavement.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Psychology
- Religious studies
- Applied Psychology