“Religion, Spirituality, and Health”

“Religion, Spirituality, and Health” May 16, 2021


Duke's Medical Center
The entrance to the Medical Center at Duke University, where Dr. Harold G. Koenig has his principal academic appointment
(Wikimedia Commons public domain image)




I offer here a potpourri of appalling horrors from the essentially inexhaustible Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File©:


“Donation to Assist Exploited Children in Hawaii: Church partners with Ho’ōla Nā Pua to support the Bromley Family Pearl Haven Campus”


“Latter-day Saint NBA CEO tells Wall Street Journal that his faith gives him a ‘longer view’”


“Why BYU, other church schools rejected tens of millions in COVID-19 relief”


“LDS congregation donates almost 4 gallons of blood”

Thanks to Cody Quirk for calling this one to my notice.


“More Than 2,400 Youth Serve in Massive St. George-Area Clean-up”


“Church Donation Helping to Feed Refugees Settling in Houston”


“The Church Donates Oxygen, Medical Supplies and Food to Support Brazil During COVID-19: Donations include US$5.8 million in oxygen and enough food for 1 million Brazilians”


And, as regards this final item from today’s Hitchens File© offerings, I’m grateful to Dr. Lynn Johnson for kindly bringing this article to my attention.  It’s by a professor of medicine who holds appointments in both the Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, and the Department of Medicine at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia:



I share two passages from the article — first, the abstract and, second, the conclusion(s):

This paper provides a concise but comprehensive review of research on religion/spirituality (R/S) and both mental health and physical health. It is based on a systematic review of original data-based quantitative research published in peer-reviewed journals between 1872 and 2010, including a few seminal articles published since 2010. First, I provide a brief historical background to set the stage. Then I review research on R/S and mental health, examining relationships with both positive and negative mental health outcomes, where positive outcomes include well-being, happiness, hope, optimism, and gratefulness, and negative outcomes involve depression, suicide, anxiety, psychosis, substance abuse, delinquency/crime, marital instability, and personality traits (positive and negative). I then explain how and why R/S might influence mental health. Next, I review research on R/S and health behaviors such as physical activity, cigarette smoking, diet, and sexual practices, followed by a review of relationships between R/S and heart disease, hypertension, cerebrovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, immune functions, endocrine functions, cancer, overall mortality, physical disability, pain, and somatic symptoms. I then present a theoretical model explaining how R/S might influence physical health. Finally, I discuss what health professionals should do in light of these research finding sand make recommendations in this regard. . . .
Religious/spiritual beliefs and practices are commonly used by both medical and psychiatric patients to cope with illness and other stressful life changes. A large volume of research shows that people who are more R/S have better mental health and adapt more quickly to health problems compared to those who are less R/S. These possible benefits to mental health and well-being have physiological consequences that impact physical health, aect the risk of disease, and influence response to treatment. In this paper I have reviewed and summarized hundreds of quantitative original data-based research reports examining relationships between R/S and health. These reports have been published in peer-reviewed journals in medicine, nursing, social work, rehabilitation, social sciences, counseling, psychology, psychiatry, public health, demography, economics, and religion. The majority of studies report significant relationships between R/S and better health. For details on these and many other studies in this area, and for suggestions on future research that is needed, I again refer the reader to the Handbook of Religion and Health.The research findings, a desire to provide high-quality care, and simply common sense, all underscore the need to integrate spirituality into patient care. I have briefly reviewed reasons for inquiring about and addressing spiritual needs in clinical practice, described how to do so, and indicated boundaries across which health professionals should not cross. For more information on how to integrate spirituality into patient care, the reader is referred to the book Spirituality in Patient Care. The field of religion, spirituality, and health is growing rapidly, and I dare to say, is moving from the periphery into the mainstream of healthcare. All health professionals should be familiar with the research base described in this paper, know the reasons for integrating spirituality into patient care, and be able to do so in a sensible and sensitive way. At stake is the health and well-being of our patients and satisfaction that we as health care providers experience in delivering care that addresses the whole person—body, mind, and spirit.




On a very different note:  My wife and I have just finished watching the latest iteration of the two-part docudrama that is designed to accompany the Witnesses theatrical film and that will follow it within a few months of the latter’s premiere — which is currently scheduled to occur in nearly sixty theaters from Wednesday, 2 June, through Saturday, 5 June.  We were very pleased at the way the docudrama, entitled Undaunted: Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, is turning out.  The current total length of the two parts is roughy 2.5 hours.  We may attempt to shorten it a bit.  Or maybe we won’t.  I’m particularly happy with the way in which the docudrama interacts with, features scenes from, comments upon, and elucidates the theatrical film.  Together, they will make a powerful one-two punch.  (Please note the pugilistic metaphor:  It’s probably a revealing window into my brutal soul, an illustration of the perpetual simmering rage that, according to several anonymous commenters who don’t personally know me, motivates everything I do.  As I understand their analysis, I’m utterly consumed by bitterness and a desire for revenge on somebody, or on everybody, for something or other at some time.  Or something like that.)


Posted from Williamsburg, Virginia



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