Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 32, Issue 6, pp 570-581

First online:

Prayer and reverence in naturalistic, aesthetic, and socio-moral contexts predicted fewer complications following coronary artery bypass

  • Amy L. AiAffiliated withUniversity of Pittsburgh Email author 
  • , Paul WinkAffiliated withWellesley College
  • , Terrence N. TiceAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan
  • , Steven F. BollingAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan
  • , Marshall ShearerAffiliated withUniversity of Michigan

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This prospective study explores prayer, reverence, and other aspects of faith in postoperative complications and hospital length of stay of patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery. Alongside traditional religiousness measures, we examined sense of reverence in religious and secular contexts. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 177 patients 2 weeks before surgery at a medical center. Medical variables were retrieved from the national Society of Thoracic Surgeons’ Database. Logistic and multiple regression models were performed to predict outcomes. Prayer frequencies were associated with reduced complications but not hospitalization. Sense of reverence in secular contexts predicted fewer complications and shorter hospitalization. Controlling for complications reduced the initial influence of reverence on hospitalization, suggesting the potential mediation of complications. No interaction between demographics and faith factors was evident. The role of faith in medicine is complex and context-dependent. Future studies are needed on mediating factors.


Multi-faceted measures and effects of religion and spirituality Diverse faiths and sense of reverence in different context A sense of deep interconnectedness Spiritual seeking Prayer Cardiovascular diseases and coronary artery bypass surgery