Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 238–257 | Cite as

Unbelievable?! Theistic/Epistemological Viewpoint Affects Religion–Health Relationship

  • David SpeedEmail author
Original Paper


Research suggests that Religion/Spirituality promotes a variety of positive health outcomes. However, despite reporting lower levels of Religion/Spirituality, non-believers report comparable levels of health to believers. The current study tested the hypothesis that Religion/Spirituality does not have a uniform effect on health for all persons, and tested theological/epistemological categories as moderators. Using the 2012 and 2014 General Social Survey (N = 2670), the relationship between Religion/Spirituality and happiness and self-rated health was investigated. Results indicated that Gnostic Theists experienced Religion/Spirituality more positively than their peers did; Agnostic Theists experienced Religion/Spirituality less positively than their peers did; and Negative Atheists experienced Religion/Spirituality less positively than their peers did. These findings suggested that Religion/Spirituality is not associated with salutary effects for all persons, and that whether a person believes in god(s) and how confident he/she was in god(s)’ existence, influenced his/her experience with Religion/Spirituality.


Atheism Theism Gnosticism Agnosticism Happiness Health General Social Survey Statistical moderation 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

This author has no conflict of interests to report. All data analysis was done using a pre-existing data source. These data were collected in a manner consistent with the ethical requirements of the American Psychological Association.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Applied Health ResearchMemorial University of NewfoundlandSt. John’sCanada

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