Questions on Assessing the Evidence Linking Religion/Spirituality to Health

  • Doug OmanEmail author
Part of the Religion, Spirituality and Health: A Social Scientific Approach book series (RELSPHE, volume 2)


This chapter describes background and methods used in a set of 13 empirical review chapters contained in Part I of this volume (chapters “ Model of Individual Health Effects from Religion/Spirituality: Supporting Evidence”, “ Religious/Spiritual Effects on Physical Morbidity and Mortality”,  Social and Community-Level Factors in Health Effects from Religion/Spirituality”, “ Social Identity and Discrimination in Religious/Spiritual Influences on Health”, “ Environmental Health Sciences, Religion, and Spirituality”, “ Infectious Diseases, Religion, and Spirituality”, “ Public Health Nutrition, Religion, and Spirituality”, “ Maternal/Child Health, Religion, and Spirituality”, “ Health Policy and Management, Religion, and Spirituality”, “ Public Health Education, Promotion, and Intervention: Relevance of Religion and Spirituality”, “ Mental Health, Religion, and Spirituality”, “ Clinical Practice, Religion, and Spirituality” and “ Weighing the Evidence: What is Revealed by 100+ Meta-Analyses and Systematic Reviews of Religion/Spirituality and Health?”).

Each of these thirteen review chapers focuses on relations between religious and spiritual (R/S) factors and health variables. This present chapter addresses the following 12 questions:
  1. 1.

    What common methods were employed across reviews?

  2. 2.

    What was done if systematic reviews were unavailable?

  3. 3.

    How do the reviews cover qualitative findings?

  4. 4.

    What are strengths and weaknesses of utilizing systematic reviews as “building blocks”?

  5. 5.

    How are religion and spirituality defined?

  6. 6.

    How do the reviews interpret findings that religious/spiritual factors have both favorable and unfavorable associations with health variables?

  7. 7.

    What about ethics?

  8. 8.

    How do religion and spirituality express themselves as living forces?

  9. 9.

    How many “dimensions” do religion and spirituality possess?

  10. 10.

    Who is religious/spiritual, and in what ways?

  11. 11.

    Were any public health subfields omitted?

  12. 12.

    How do religion/spirituality and stress “get into the body”?



Religion Spirituality Public health Systematic review Meta-analysis Meta-synthesis Allostatic load Methods Ethics Qualitative 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Public HealthUniversity of California at BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA

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