Original Paper

Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 47, Issue 2, pp 134-163

First online:

Measuring Religiousness in Health Research: Review and Critique

  • Daniel E. HallAffiliated withCenter for Health Equity Research and Promotion, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare SystemDepartment of Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Keith G. MeadorAffiliated withDuke University Medical CenterDurham Veterans Affairs Medical Center
  • , Harold G. KoenigAffiliated withDuke University Medical CenterGeriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, Durham Veterans Affairs Medical Center

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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.


Religiousness Spirituality Measurement Philosophy Worldview