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Week of October 14, 2013


UM to lead major effort to solidify research on religion and health

The relationship between religion, spirituality and health has received considerable attention in recent years but the array of studies has fallen short of establishing solid explanations for why religion has both positive and negative effects on human physiology.

With an $8 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation, a University of Michigan researcher and four colleagues plan to provide some structure to the field, with goals to better pinpoint the relationship and to influence future research practice on the subject.

Neal Krause, the Marshall H. Becker Collegiate Professor in the Department of Health Behavior and Health Education at the School of Public Health, and colleagues will conduct a landmark spirituality and health survey as one component of a plan to address a field that has not yet established cause and effect between religion and health.

Krause said problems with methodology, including small sample sizes, and other challenges with quality have plagued much of the research to date.

“Research has shown, for example, that people who go to church more often have better health. But we don’t know if this means that religion makes people healthier or whether only healthy people are able to get to church in the first place,” Krause said. “In order to unravel this and a host of similar issues, you have to follow the same people over time.

“There is convincing evidence that religion can be associated with better health, but the literature provides a complex picture. It is more accurate to say that religion appears to improve the health of some but not all people. In fact, there is some evidence that there may be harmful aspects of religious involvement for some individuals.

“The only way to unify a field is to develop a deliberate plan to do so. So far this has not happened in the religion and health field.”

With the grant, Krause and colleagues will address major gaps in the literature, including expanding the ages, types of religion and practices of those surveyed. A number of previous studies focused on college students or a small segment that does not represent the general population, such as a specific denomination. Research also often centers on a single aspect of religion, such as prayer.

The team will draw upon a 3,000-member sample of people 18 and older from across the United States, and will focus on a number of dimensions of religious life. The research sets up the infrastructure to follow people over time and gather data on various biomarkers — blood pressure, height, weight, waist circumference, immune function, glucose levels, inflammation associated with heart disease — and measure them against a full complement of religion measures.

Another goal of the program is to establish a structure of research modules that will allow others to build upon their work. One way they will engage others is to establish a unique competition for new investigators who will propose research that will draw upon the core team’s support.

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Posted by W. McGlothlin | Mar 6, 2014
I hope they DO differentiate between spiritual and religious. I have done social policy interviewing for 10 years and I can tell you that most of the people I have spoken with make a sharp determination between spiritual vs. religious. People seem to associate "religious" with overly legalistic, enforcing rules on others. While they tend to describe Spirituality with more of a personal journey that is not foisted on others. Most seems to consider "Religious" as a more Old School approach that they reject, and consider Spirituality as something distinctly different.
Posted by Mysti Easterwood | Feb 10, 2014
While I agree with previous posters that spirituality could be considered distinct from religiosity, it seems to me that spirituality is significantly more difficult to quantify, and therefore study in a way that meets the criteria of academic inquiry. I do think that as this study unfolds, ways to assay the spirituality undergirding religiosity may present themselves. Much depends on the perspicacity (and spiritual clarity) of the designers. "And a soul if it is to know itself must look into its own soul: the stranger and enemy, we’ve seen him in the mirror." Mythohistoremia - Georges Seferis In any case, I think it will be a valuable process. M
Posted by Master Damon Sprock | Nov 21, 2013
Please use this post instead of the original - Typo error Greetings, It gives me satisfaction to read the two previous comments posted on this page. It is good to have many religions in the world. This creates more paths to God. Religion gives one a means to seek goodness and happiness, mentally and emotionally. A strong belief in religious doctrine can affect the subconscious mind hologram by continuously creating an association and repetition of positive frequency throughout the physical body. However, in order to achieve this, one must be aware of how our human consciousness has a quantum connection to God consciousness. The subconscious mind hologram is our quantum connection to God consciousness. To further understand this phenomenon, it is necessary to become knowledgeable about how the universe was created and functions. I have introduced my discovery to the Templeton Foundation more than a year ago but to no avail. The research being conducted now by Mr. Neil Krause and others will not unveil any significant data to heighten human consciousness of how spirituality is the core of humanity and responsible for healing on all levels of our physical being. I have also sent findings of my research to the science department of the Vatican after the 2012 announcement by Pope Benedict, that the Vatican was considering the Big Bang theory, if God were a participant. The following link reveals my research, The Spiritual Big Bang: Origin of Universe and conforms to the belief that a spiritual entity is the origin of all physical world phenomenon. This discovery reveals how the frequency of Spiritual DNA has given humanity the preexisting potential of all knowledge within our subconscious mind hologram. Picture images and words received by the brain are sent to the subconscious mind hologram to be utilized as search data for problem-solving and decision-making. The healing frequency flows from the Spiritual DNA into our spirit, the underlying vibrating force of our being, then into the next level of human density, the sub-atomic particles, then into the atoms and finally into the cellular structure of our physical make-up. When prayer is applied for healing, it is this sequence of events that occurs that allows healing to manifest. For thousands of years the prayers that manifested desires into reality were called miracles. It is now understood to be God's hand underlying science of the mind.
Posted by Tamara Goldsby, PhD | Nov 21, 2013
Very well said, Barbara. As I read this article, I was hoping that the focus would be on spirituality instead of religion, as well. As you mentioned, spirituality is the inner journey while religion is a communal endeavor and they are distinctly different concepts. It is unfortunate that they appear to be mixing the two concepts. We need research on spirituality and health, not religion and health.
Posted by Barbara Vincensi PhD, RN FNP | Nov 21, 2013
There is a need to differentiate between spirituality and religiosity. What I see being proposed by this research is related more to religiosity and not so much to spirituality. In my research I have found that many describe spirituality as the individual journey whereas religiosity is the communal journey. Both evolve and involve separate developmental pathways and outcomes as well as influences on health. The literature really needs more on the effects of the spiritual on health and not so much on the religious as religions effects on health have been already been studied and documented.There is not a gap in the literature on this topic. There is no consensus on what the spiritual is and truly offers for health vs religion. This is not a new topic to those of us in health care and familiar with both the spiritual and religious aspects in health. Would love to see more focus on the spiritual, not mix it up with religion, and not use these two different concepts interchangeably which is often done in the medical/physician literature. This is not how many other disciplines both in health care and client/consumer interpret this phenomenon. The spiritual is the overarching concept with religion being one way of displaying or interpreting the spiritual for the individual to provide the outcomes of healing, relationships, comfort, love, hope, ritual, etc. which have been shown to improve compliance and pt outcomes. Just my wish is all.

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