The Link between Religion and Health: Psychoneuroimmunology and the Faith Factor

By Harold G. Koenig; Harvey Jay Cohen | Go to book overview
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11
Immune, Neuroendocrine,
and Religious Measures
BRUCE S. RABIN & HAROLD G. KOENIG

In this chapter, we describe measures of immune and neuroendocrine function that investigators can use to explore the possible interaction between religion and the mind-body-health axis. We also describe measures of religious belief, practice, and commitment that can be used to assess the religious variable. In each section, we try to identify those measures that are most sensitive to change and most likely to detect relationships between independent and dependent variables. The particular measure used may depend on a number of factors, including the type of population studied and the study design (cross-sectional vs. longitudinal vs. interventional). We also suggest other variables that must be controlled when studying these relationships. Finally, we discuss the meaning of associations that may occur between immune, neuroendocrine and religious variables. Further details and references for the following discussion may be found in Rabin (1999).


Overview of Immune Structure and Function

A number of solid organs, cellular components, and soluble proteins make up the immune system. These include the lymphoid tissues, lymphocytes and other immune cells, and immunoglobulins and cytokines. The following offers a brief overview of these immune components. Lymphoid tissues are divided into two classes: (1) the primary lymphoid tissues, which are the bone marrow and thymus, and (2) the secondary lymphoid tissues,

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