Spirituality enhances health — particularly mental health — regardless of a person’s faith, according to new research.
In a new study, researchers at the University of Missouri suggest that health care providers may want to begin tailoring treatments and rehabilitation programs to accommodate an individual’s spiritual inclinations.
The study used the results of three surveys to determine if correlations existed among a person’s self-reported mental and physical health, personality factors, and spirituality in Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Catholics and Protestants.
Across all five faiths, a greater degree of spirituality was related to better mental health, specifically lower levels of neuroticism and greater extraversion, according to Dr. Dan Cohen, assistant teaching professor of religious studies at MU and one of the co-authors of the study.
“Our prior research shows that the mental health of people recovering from different medical conditions, such as cancer, stroke, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, appears to be related significantly to positive spiritual beliefs and especially congregational support and spiritual interventions,” he said.
“Spiritual beliefs may be a coping device to help individuals deal emotionally with stress.”
Cohen believes spirituality may help people’s mental health by reducing their self-centeredness and developing their sense of belonging to a larger whole.
“Health workers may also benefit from learning how to minimize the negative side of a patient’s spirituality, which may manifest itself in the tendency to view misfortune as a divine curse,” the researcher noted.
Spiritual interventions, including religious-based counseling, meditation, and forgiveness, may enhance spiritually-based beliefs, practices, and coping strategies in positive ways, the researchers add.
Source: University of Missouri