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Benefits of attending religious services increasingly accepted

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Good to know, when health care spending has gone from 7% to 18% of GDP in recent years:

One leading researcher has identified a key to health often ignored by the medical establishment: The Great Physician. Practicing psychiatrist Harold G. Koenig, M.D. has long documented the surprising links between religious faith and better health outcomes. He’s now got further research to back up his claim.

“There is considerable evidence that religious people do, in fact, live longer and are happier,” said Koenig in a phone interview from Duke University. “Frequency of attending religious services seems to be one of the most powerful predictors.”

In 1998, Koenig became founding director of The Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health. As part of Duke University Medical Center, Koenig and his team conduct research and chronicle how religion and spirituality are linked to health.

Their research work includes the 1,169-page volume Handbook of Religion and Health, 2nd Edition (2012) and countless practical guides now used by practitioners. The Center recently completed its annual week-long training conference on religion and health research. More than 50 people from a half-dozen countries participated, from a variety of faith traditions.

Josh Shepherd, “Medical Researcher Reveals Surprising Benefits of Attending Religious Services” at The Stream

Some of us think that this kind of data is thought-provoking but fuzzy.

One question: Who usually attends religious services? Not the guy who is dead drunk at the bottom of the stairs or the one who is lying in wait for a passerby. Or the one fixing a noose to hang himself.

The attendees are self-selected to know they need help with daily living and attending services is part of an overall lifestyle which aims at, among other things, wellness.

Most religious groups offer lifestyle precepts or commands and the more devout a follower is, the more likely those precepts/commands are to be followed. Just not drinking, smoking, or doing drugs usually means more years to a person’s life. So it is not surprising that the more frequently a person attends services, the more likely they are to live a long time. How do we tease out the part that spirituality plays?

Of course, longevity is not all there is to religion! But if we are talking about why religious people live longer, well, these are some clues to start with. – O’Leary for News

Hat tip: Philip Cunningham

See also: Sceptic asks, why do people who abandon religion embrace superstition? Belief in God is declining and belief in ghosts and witches is rising

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Can Religion Extend Your Life? – By Chuck Dinerstein — June 16, 2018 Excerpt: The researcher’s regression analysis suggested that the effect of volunteering and participation accounted for 20% or 1 year of the impact, while religious affiliation accounted for the remaining four years or 80%. https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/06/16/can-religion-extend-your-life-13092
I find it interesting that often the people looking at these correlations try hard to find non-spiritual reasons for them. Why can't they just accept that being human has a spiritual dimension that interacts with the physical, mental, emotional and social aspects of being human? Those who deny, or try to avoid or minimize the spiritual aspects of their and others' existence will clearly be worse off for it. Ignoring part of your being is not healthy. Thus, it should be no surprise that people who do recognize and exercise their spirituality in consistent and organized ways will be healthier and more balanced, hence happier, people. If sociology can study religions and religious people, why can't they recognize the reality of spirituality and religious truth? Fasteddious
But is it religion or the increased social interaction that is the cause of better health and longevity?
Two decades of research indicate causal associations between social relationships and mortality, but important questions remain as to how social relationships affect health, when effects emerge, and how long they last. Drawing on data from four nationally represen- tative longitudinal samples of the US population, we implemented an innovative life course design to assess the prospective association of both structural and functional dimensions of social relationships (social integration, social support, and social strain) with objectively measured biomarkers of physical health (C-reactive protein, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, waist circumference, and body mass index) within each life stage, including adolescence and young, middle, and late adulthood, and compare such associations across life stages. We found that a higher degree of social integration was associated with lower risk of physiological dysregulation in a dose– response manner in both early and later life. Conversely, lack of social connections was associated with vastly elevated risk in specific life stages. For example, social isolation increased the risk of inflammation by the same magnitude as physical inactivity in adolescence, and the effect of social isolation on hypertension exceeded that of clinical risk factors such as diabetes in old age. Analyses of multiple dimensions of social relationships within multiple samples across the life course pro- duced consistent and robust associations with health. Physiological impacts of structural and functional dimensions of social relationships emerge uniquely in adolescence and midlife and persist into old age.
Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span https://www.drperlmutter.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/7-SOCIAL-RELATIONSHIPS.pdf Brother Brian
Critter @ 3, >Would someone religious admit they were not happy? Yes. I admit that I am not a naturally happy person. But as one who was once non-religious, I am far happier now than I was then, by a long ways. EDTA
Critter at 3, King David certainly admitted to unhappiness. And he wrote some of the best Psalms in the Bible. http://www.econdolence.com/learn/articles/psalms/ See also the Lamentations of Jeremiah. News
Would someone religious admit they were not happy? critter
Perhaps the guy who is dead drunk at the bottom of the stairs,,, or the one fixing a noose to hang himself, (and even the hoodlum), need to know that there is a much better way?
Are Religious People Happier Than Atheists? – 2000 Excerpt: there does indeed appear to be a link between religion and happiness. Several studies have been done, but to give an example, one study found that the more frequently people attended religious events, the happier they were; 47% of people who attended several types a week reported that they were ‘very happy’, as opposed to 28% who attended less than monthly. In practical terms, religious people have the upper hand on atheists in several other areas. They drink and smoke less, are less likely to abuse drugs, and they stay married longer. After a stressful event like bereavement, unemployment, or illness, those who worship don’t take it as hard and recover faster. All of the above are likely to be beneficial to a person’s happiness. Additionally, religious people, as a result of their beliefs, have a greater sense of meaning, purpose and hope in their lives. http://generallythinking.com/are-religious-people-happier-than-atheists/
It's hard to tell from the article whether Koenig has tried to determine causality with a controlled experiment. Shepherd, the interviewer, doesn't even see the problem. He just asks a lot of correlation questions and accepts the correlations as meaningful. polistra

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