Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 134–163

Measuring Religiousness in Health Research: Review and Critique


    • Center for Health Equity Research and PromotionVA Pittsburgh Healthcare System
    • Department of SurgeryUniversity of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
  • Keith G. Meador
    • Duke University Medical Center
    • Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • Harold G. Koenig
    • Duke University Medical Center
    • Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical CenterDurham Veterans Affairs Medical Center
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10943-008-9165-2

Cite this article as:
Hall, D.E., Meador, K.G. & Koenig, H.G. J Relig Health (2008) 47: 134. doi:10.1007/s10943-008-9165-2


Although existing measures of religiousness are sophisticated, no single approach has yet emerged as a standard. We review the measures of religiousness most commonly used in the religion and health literature with particular attention to their limitations, suggesting that vigilance is required to avoid over-generalization. After placing the development of these scales in historical context, we discuss measures of religious attendance, private religious practice, and intrinsic/extrinsic religious motivation. We also discuss measures of religious coping, wellbeing, belief, affiliation, maturity, history, and experience. We also address the current trend in favor of multi-dimensional and functional measures of religiousness. We conclude with a critique of the standard, “context-free” approach aimed at measuring “religiousness-in-general”, suggesting that future work might more fruitfully focus on developing ways to measure religiousness in specific, theologically relevant contexts.



Copyright information

© Blanton-Peale Institute 2008