By On November 21st, 2008

Religious feelings have an association with greater likelihood of survival

According to findings from a large study (92,000 female participants), religious feelings have an association with greater likelihood of survival. The study, which was published in Psychology and Health online, found that women who reported certain types of religious feelings had hazard ratios of 0.80 to 0.89 (P<0.05) for all causes of mortality. According to Eliezer Schnall, Ph.D., of Yeshiva University, and colleagues, "In an effort to assess which pathways may be relevant to the decreased mortality found for those with religious affiliation and more frequent religious service attendance, causes of death were compared across groups… however, no significant differences were found." The group concluded that while the association between religious feelings and lengthier survival seems real the reasons for it are still unknown. The following is an excerpt of an article from Medpage Today that discusses the study more:

At baseline in the study, women were asked whether they had a religious affiliation; how frequently they attended worship services; and whether religion provided a great deal of strength and comfort, a little, or none.

The hazard ratios for all-cause death during follow-up associated with these variables, relative to participants expressing the lowest level of religious attachment, were:

* Having a religious affiliation: HR 0.84 (95% CI 0.75 to 0.93)
* Attending services less than weekly: HR 0.85 (95% CI 0.79 to 0.92)
* Attending services weekly: HR 0.80 (95% CI 0.75 to 0.86)
* Attending services more often than weekly: HR 0.80 (95% CI 0.73 to 0.87)
* Religion provides a little comfort: HR 0.95 (95% CI 0.86 to 1.05)
* Religion provides a great deal of comfort: HR 0.89 (95% CI 0.82 to 0.98)

These hazard ratios reflected adjustments for age, ethnicity, income, education, body mass index, and current morbidities.

The apparent benefits of deriving substantial strength and comfort from religion disappeared when the researchers also controlled for smoking and alcohol consumption.

And having a religious affiliation was no longer a protective factor when these health behaviors and psychosocial variables, such as self-reported social support and life satisfaction, were included in the analysis.

But the protective effect of attendance at religious services at least weekly remained significant in these enhanced models, with hazard ratios of 0.87 to 0.90 (P<0.05).

Click here to read the rest of this article from Medpage Today

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