Research Proves That Religiosity, Spirituality and Faith Are Great Healers

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 18, 2006 | Go to article overview

Research Proves That Religiosity, Spirituality and Faith Are Great Healers


Spirituality has been defined as an experiential process whose features include quest for meaning and purpose, a sense that being human is more than material existence, connectedness with others, nature or the divine.

A religion organises the collective experiences of a group of people into a system of beliefs and practices.

Religiosity refers to the degree of participation in, or adherence to, the beliefs and practices of a religion.

Associations have been sought between religiosity and the onset of, or recovery from, a broad range of medical conditions. Benefits have also been sought from faith-based therapies.

The more rigorous studies have found a positive association between greater religiosity and a better health outcome in areas such as hypertension, myocardial infarction, fatal coronary heart disease, depression, anxiety, alcoholism, substance misuse, and suicide.

Religion also provides an important social resource for the elderly and may confer a protective effect against late-life depression.

It may even be used as a coping strategy to adapt to perceived changes in health status.

Social relationships have a powerful effect in the prevention of ill-health, mental disorder and distress.

Depression was found to be less evident in spouses of lung cancer patients who used religious coping strategies - such as prayer or seeking comfort in faith and from church members, than those who are not religious.

Seven of the 12 steps at the heart of Alcoholics Anonymous feature spirituality. For example, participants surrender their will to a higher power, use prayer and meditation to improve their relationship with him and seek spiritual awakening.

Over the years, researchers have confirmed an association between this kind of spirituality and positive outcomes in alcoholism and substance abuse treatment.

For children who believe God plays a role in their lives, it may be helpful to incorporate that into prevention messages - religiosity keeps children from smoking, drinking and using illicit drugs by buffering the impact of life stresses.

Religiosity was especially beneficial for children facing stressful situations, such as illness or an unemployed parent. …

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Research Proves That Religiosity, Spirituality and Faith Are Great Healers
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