Spirituality, Religiousness and Physical Health: Scientific Evidence

  • Marcelo Saad
  • Jorge Cecilio DaherJr
  • Roberta de Medeiros
Part of the Religion, Spirituality and Health: A Social Scientific Approach book series (RELSPHE, volume 4)


Currently, one can find numerous longitudinal studies that examined the relationship between religiousness-spirituality (R-S) and health, with very good control for potential confounders. In most of these studies, the association is demonstrated, suggesting evidence of a protective effect of R-S factors on physical and mental health, quality of life, and longevity. The statistical correlation between R-S and health was found for several health-related outcomes, especially in cardiovascular diseases. Although causality can not be definitively established, the evidence that at least part of the association is causal seems quite strong. The R-S factor that seems most strongly associated with health is the frequency of attendance at religious services. The R-S dimension is associated with greater longevity in people in the most varied conditions. However, in some population subgroups, the benefit of this association seems to be greater. The mechanisms of action of R-S on health are not fully described, but they should include a combination of neuro-psycho-immune endocrinology pathways, encouragement of healthier behaviors, and social-congregational factors. In the other direction, under certain conditions, adverse health effects from R-S interpretations have been documented, with effects exactly opposed to those cited. Future studies should be designed in order to fill current gaps and to guide how this knowledge could shape medical practice.


Religion and medicine Spirituality Longevity Psychoneuroimmunology Psychophysiology Integrative medicine Metaphysical mind-body relation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcelo Saad
    • 1
  • Jorge Cecilio DaherJr
    • 2
    • 3
  • Roberta de Medeiros
    • 4
  1. 1.Spiritist-Medical Association of São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  2. 2.Instituto de Medicina do Comportamento Eurípedes BarsanulfoGoiâniaBrazil
  3. 3.Central de Medicamentos de Alto Custo Juarez BarbosaGoiâniaBrazil
  4. 4.Centro Universitário São CamiloSão PauloBrazil

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