Education, survival, and independence in elderly catholic sisters, 1936-1988

David A. Snowdon, Sharon K. Ostwald, Robert L Kane

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94 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mortality among 306 Roman Catholic sisters (nuns) from Mankato, Minnesota, was assessed during the period 1936-1988; daily use of nursing services by survivors was determined in 1986; and the ability of survivors to eat, dress, and perform other self-care activities was evaluated in 1987. The median age at death was 89.4 years for sisters with educational attainment of a bachelor's degree or higher, 82.2 years for sisters with some high school or college education, and 82.0 years for sisters with only a grade school education. Odds ratios were calculated for "survival and independence" (i.e., sisters survived to 1986 (ages 75-94 years) and did not use daily nursing services at that time). These odds ratios were 2.67 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16-6.16) for sisters with a bachelor's degree or higher, 1.00 for the reference group with some high school or college, and 0.94 (95% CI 0.32-2.73) for sisters with only grade school. Sisters with a bachelor's degree or higher were also more likely than others to survive to old age while maintaining their ability to perform self-care activities. These findings suggest that college graduates lived longer and maintained their ability to care for themselves longer than other persons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)999-1012
Number of pages14
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Volume130
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 1989

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Received for publication June 20, 1988, and in final This work was supported by a grant from the Basic form April 5, 1989. Research and Support Grant Program to the Univer-1Division of Epidemiology, School of Public sity of Minnesota School of Public Health (NIH Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. BRSG Grant 2-S07-RR05448) and a grant from the 2Division of Health Services Administration, Sloan Foundation. School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, The authors recognize Sister Del Mane Rysavy for Minneapolis, MN. her help in computer programming; Sisters Kathleen 3School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Bauer and Francanne Etringer and Nora Keenan for Minneapolis, MN. their help in administering the study; and Dre Louise Reprint requests to Dr. David A Snowdon, Division Messer, James Vaupel, and James Mortimer and of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University David Radosevich for their advice regarding the study of Minnesota, Stadium Gate 27, 611 Beacon St. SE, and the manuscript Minneapolis, MN 55455

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Education
  • Health
  • Mortality
  • Survival

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