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Spiritual perspectives of Black Caribbean and White British older adults: development of a spiritual typology in later life



Spirituality is positively linked to health and well-being in later life, particularly among older adults of black ethnic groups. However, definitions of spirituality in the literature have largely been theoretically informed, rather than based on the views of older people themselves. We examined the spiritual perspectives of Black Caribbean and White British older adults based on in-depth interviews with 34 individuals aged between 60 and 95 years. Our aim was to develop a spiritual typology to add to an understanding of the process of spirituality in later life. Findings showed that Black Caribbean older individuals mostly defined spirituality in relation to their belief in a transcendent God, whereas White British older individuals tended to draw upon a wider range of spiritual, religious or secular notions. A spirituality typology in later life captured four categories of relationship, between ‘God to self’, ‘self to God’, ‘self to universe’ and ‘self to life’. The typology highlights the central role of ethnicity in shaping spiritual perspectives in later life, and identifies the multidimensional nature of spirituality among older adults, reflecting in part a developmental process, although a process which is socially and culturally constructed.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Euan Sadler, Department of Primary Care and Public Health Sciences, King's College London, 7th Floor Capital House, 42 Weston Street, London SE1 3QD, UK. E-mail:


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Spiritual perspectives of Black Caribbean and White British older adults: development of a spiritual typology in later life



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