Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 34, Issue 6, pp 477–488 | Cite as

Understanding the connection between spiritual well-being and physical health: an examination of ambulatory blood pressure, inflammation, blood lipids and fasting glucose

  • Julianne Holt-Lunstad
  • Patrick R. Steffen
  • Jonathan Sandberg
  • Bryan Jensen


Growing research has demonstrated a link between spiritual well-being and better health; however, little is known about possible physiological mechanisms. In a sample of highly religious healthy male and female adults (n = 100) ages 19–59 (m = 28.28) we examined the influence of spiritual well-being, as measured by the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-Being (FACIT-Sp-Ex), on physiological risk factors for heart disease. Specifically we examined 24-h ambulatory blood pressure (BP), inflammation (hs-C-reactive protein), fasting glucose, and blood lipids. Regression analyses reveal that higher levels of spiritual-wellness (total FACIT-Sp-Ex score) was significantly related to lower systolic ambulatory BP (β = −.345; P < .001), diastolic ambulatory BP (β = −.24; P = .02), hs-C-reactive protein (β = −.23; P = .04), fasting glucose (β = −.28; P = .006), and marginally lower triglycerides (β = −.21; P = .09) and VLDL (β = −.21; P = .10) controlling for age, gender, and church attendance. Results remained generally consistent across the Meaning, Peace, Faith and Additional Spiritual Concerns subscales of the FACIT-Sp-Ex. Spiritual well-being may be cardio protective.


Spiritual Religiosity Heart disease Blood pressure Fasting glucose Inflammation Cholesterol 



This research was supported in part by grants from the Family Studies Center at Brigham Young University and the Fulton Young Scholar Award, awarded to Julianne Holt-Lunstad. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julianne Holt-Lunstad
    • 1
  • Patrick R. Steffen
    • 1
  • Jonathan Sandberg
    • 2
  • Bryan Jensen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Marriage & Family TherapyBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA

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