, Volume 49, Issue 1, pp 3-17
Date: 09 Dec 2008

Determining Relationships Between Physical Health and Spiritual Experience, Religious Practices, and Congregational Support in a Heterogeneous Medical Sample

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Abstract

Previous research indicates that increased religiosity/spirituality is related to better health, but the specific nature of these relationships is unclear. The purpose of this study was to determine the relationships between physical health and spiritual belief, religious practices, and congregational support using the Brief Multidimensional Measure of Religiousness/Spirituality and the Medical Outcomes Scale Shortform-36. A total of 168 participants were surveyed with the following medical disorders: Cancer, Spinal Cord Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Stroke, plus a healthy sample from a primary care setting. The results show that individuals with chronic medical conditions do not automatically turn to religious and spiritual resources following onset of their disorder. Physical health is positively related to frequency of attendance at religious services, which may be related to better health leading to increased ability to attend services. In addition, spiritual belief in a loving, higher power, and a positive worldview are associated with better health, consistent with psychoneuroimmunological models of health. Practical implications for health care providers are discussed.