quality of life, religious community life, nuns


Catholic Studies | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Missions and World Christianity


Background: The quality of life in older women has been found to decrease with poverty, poor health, decreased access to healthcare and low education, while marriage and children can both improve or decrease the quality of life. The information on the quality of life of older women living in faith based communities is lacking.

Objectives: The purpose of this study was to explore the quality of life and factors impacting quality of life in Sisters living in an assisted living facility.

Methods: The short form 36 Health Survey Questionnaire (SF-36) was used to measure quality of life of the Dominican Sisters living in an assisted living facility. Of 29 surveys, 12 (41% follow-up) were completed and scored. From the survey scores, the Cronbach alpha was used to determine the degree of internal consistency for each of the 8 domains in this population. A Spearman’s correlation test was performed to determine if age and BMI had an influence on the 3 domain scores. A Mann-Whitney U test was done to determine if mean quality of life scores differed by the presence of chronic illness.

Results: The sample consisted of white, educated Sisters with a mean age of 83 years (+/- 7.5). The Cronbach alpha showed a low degree of internal consistency in 5 domains with only 3 domains (physical functioning, role functioning/physical, and role functioning/emotional) exceeding 0.70. The mean scores of physical functioning, role functioning/physical and role functioning/emotional were 47.1 (+/- 24.4), 50 (+/- 39.9), and 88.9 (+/- 39.9), respectively. There was no correlation between these 3 domains and BMI and age. Finally, there was no difference in the mean scores in the three quality of life domains and the presence of chronic illness.

Conclusion: The Dominican Sisters scored similarly to other women on the quality of life domains of physical functioning and role functioning/physical. However, the Dominican Sisters scored a very high quality of life in role functioning/emotional. I hypothesize the security of knowing that they will always be cared for and the social community they live in contributed to this high score.