Religion and medicine III: developing a theoretical model.


Journal Article

In this third of a four-article series on religion and medicine, I describe a theoretical model to illustrate the complex pathways by which religion may influence physical health. Genetic factors, childhood training, psychological and social influences, health behaviors, and healthcare practices are discussed as part of this model. Considerable space is given to recent advances in psychoneuroimmunology and to stress-induced cardiovascular changes that demonstrate physiological pathways by which cognitive, emotional, and behavioral processes may influence susceptibility to disease and disease course. I also discuss research illustrating the important role that social support plays in moderating the physiological effects of stress and improving health outcomes. If religious beliefs and practices improve coping, reduce stress, prevent or facilitate the resolution of depression, improve social support, promote healthy behaviors, and prevent alcohol and drug abuse, then a plausible mechanism exists by which physical health may be affected.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Koenig, HG

Published Date

  • January 2001

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 31 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 199 - 216

PubMed ID

  • 11760863

Pubmed Central ID

  • 11760863

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1541-3527

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0091-2174

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2190/2ybg-nl9t-ek7y-f6a3


  • eng