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Spirituality, social support, and flexibility among older adults: a five-year longitudinal study

  • Nathalie Bailly (a1), Guillaume Martinent (a2), Claude Ferrand (a1), Océane Agli (a1), Caroline Giraudeau (a1), Kamel Gana (a3) and Nicolas Roussiau (a4)...



The objectives of the study were to examine the trajectory of spirituality among older adults, to investigate the roles of gender and religion on the developmental trajectory of spirituality, and to explore whether the linear growth of spirituality accelerated or decelerated at time points at which the participants reported high scores of social support and flexibility.


A five-year longitudinal study.


The research used data from a longitudinal study, which follows a non-institutionalized older adults cohort of residents from France. The data used in this paper were collected at three time points (T1: 2007; T2: 2009; T3: 2012).


A total of 567 participants were included in the analysis (59.44% female; Mage = 75.90, SD = 5.12).


Multilevel growth curve analysis was used measuring spirituality, satisfaction with social support, and flexibility.


The results indicated the following: (1) stability of spirituality over time, (2) older women reported higher levels of spirituality than older men, and those who had a religion reported higher scores of spirituality than their counterparts who had no religion (these effects were strong and clinically meaningful), (3) older adults who reported higher levels of social support and flexibility also reported higher levels of spirituality, and (4) the slope of spirituality seemed to accelerate at time points at which participants also had higher levels of social support and flexibility (these effects were rather small but of theoretical interest).


The results of the present study help to improve the understanding of the potential benefit of encouraging the spiritual aspects of life.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Nathalie Bailly, Department of Psychology, EA 2114, Psychologie des Ages de la Vie, 3 Rue des Tanneurs, 30041 Tours Cedex 01, France. Phone: +33 2 47 36 65 56. Email:


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