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Religion, Spirituality Have Dual Roles in Better Health

Religion, Spirituality Have Dual Roles in Better Health Emerging research suggests religion and spirituality have distinct but complementary influences on health.

Oregon State University researchers looked at the relationship between health, religion, and spirituality and developed a theoretical model that defines two distinct pathways.

“Religion helps regulate behavior and health habits, while spirituality regulates your emotions, how you feel,” said Carolyn Aldwin, Ph.D., a gerontology professor at Oregon State University.

Religiousness, including formal religious affiliation and service attendance, is associated with better health habits, such as lower smoking rates and reduced alcohol consumption.

Spirituality, including meditation and private prayer, helps regulate emotions, which aids physiological effects such as blood pressure.

The findings were published recently in the journal Psychology of Religion and Spirituality.

“No one has ever reviewed all of the different models of how religion affects health,” said Aldwin. “We’re trying to impose a structure on a very messy field.”

“There can be some overlap of the influences of religion and spirituality on health,” Aldwin said.

Still, more research is needed to test the theory and examine contrasts between the two pathways.

“The goal is to help researchers develop better measures for analyzing the connections between religion, spirituality, and health and then explore possible clinical interventions,” she said.

Source: Oregon State University

Cancer patient praying photo by shutterstock.

Religion, Spirituality Have Dual Roles in Better Health

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Religion, Spirituality Have Dual Roles in Better Health. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 24, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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