Explaining the relationships between religious involvement and health
There is increasing research evidence that religious involvement is associated both cross-sectionally and prospectively with better physical health, better mental health, and longer survival. These relationships remain substantial in size and statistically significant with other risk and protective factors for morbidity and mortality statistically controlled. In this article, we review the social and psychological factors that have been hypothesized to explain the health-promoting effects of religious involvement. The four potential psychosocial mechanisms that have received empirical attention are health practices, social support, psychosocial resources such as self-esteem and self-efficacy, and belief structures such as sense of coherence. Evidence concerning these potential mediators is mixed and inconsistent, suggesting there is more to be learned about the pathways by which religion affects health. Other possible explanations for the salubrious effects of religious involvement on health and longevity are discussed.
George, LK; Ellison, CG; Larson, DB
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