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By On November 1st, 2012

Does Spirituality Improve Your Health?

A recent study, published in  the Journal of Religion and Health suggests spirituality improves the health of most people, both already healthy and those dealing with conditions and illnesses.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri, uses this new information to suggest healthcare providers could create treatments and rehabilitation programs that accomodate an individual’s spiritual beliefs, no matter what denomination.

Dan Cohen. assistant teaching professor of religious studies at the university, spoke with Grace Rattue from Medical News Today.

Cohen said, “the results of our study support the idea that spirituality functions as a personality trait. With increased spirituality people reduce their sense of self and feel a greater sense of oneness and connectedness with the rest of the universe.”

Interestingly, personal beliefs may have had  an effect, but actively participating in religious events did not. “What was interesting was that frequency of participation in religious activities or the perceived degree of congregational support was not found to be significant in the relationships between personality, spirituality, religion and health,” clarified Cohen.

The study was focused on exploring the results of three surveys examining whether there was causation between self-reported mental and physical health, personality factors, and spirituality in Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Catholics, and Protestants.

In every religion included in the study, spirituality was associated with better mental health, in specific, lower levels of neuroticism and more extroversion. In particular, forgiveness was the spiritual trait most predictive of mental health. Cohen explains, “Spiritual beliefs may be a coping device to help individuals deal emotionally with stress.”

This new information could lead to the formation of counseling and rehabilitation programs that can help improve spirituality-based beliefs, practices, and coping mechanisms. Either way, it is clear that having faith is positive for your overall health.

 

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