Monday, November 14, 2016

Religious service attendance and mortality

The Study
Over 74,000 women in the Nurses’ Health Study had their religious service attendance assessed repeatedly by questionnaire and were followed for 20 years. By the end of follow-up, women who attended religious services more than once per week had a statistically significant 33% lower rate of mortality when compared to women who did not attend religious services. The association held after controlling for all known predictors of death in this cohort. JAMA Internal Medicine 2016; 176:777-85

Take Home Message
This is a fascinating study to me. You don’t see a lot of literature on the subject of religious beliefs and health outcomes, but the reduction in risk of mortality in this investigation is strong and impressive.   

The mechanism for the reduction in risk of death in the religious is not known. However, the authors suggest several possibilities:

 1) Increased social support

2) Lower levels of depression

3) Higher levels of optimism

4) Religious coping mechanisms

5) More purpose in life

6) More self discipline

7) Higher psycho-social resilience

It is certainly beyond the scope of this blog to make recommendations of a religious nature. However, I just wanted all of my readers to be aware of this association, because it appears to be a very important predictor of long-term health.

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