142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Religion as a Social Determinant of Health

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Sunday, November 16, 2014 : 4:05 PM - 4:20 PM

Ellen Idler, PhD , Department of Sociology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

The dominant paradigm in public health is that the social circumstances in which people live -- where they are born, grow up, work, live, and grow old -- are the primary determinants of health, with medical care playing at most a supplemental role.  Those social determinants are usually conceptualized as socioeconomic, political, or racial/ethnic inequalities.  Despite a substantial research literature showing religious involvement to be a significant predictor of health outcomes, especially as a protective factor against all-cause mortality, religion has rarely been considered among the set of social determinants.  An interdisciplinary group of scholars at Emory University has conducted a three-year seminar on religion as a social determinant of health.  In their edited volume (Oxford, 2014) scholars from diverse religious traditions describe daily, weekly, and annual religious practices that involve the body and may have implications for health.  Historians detail the origins of public health institutions in religious concern for the community.  Public health researchers review evidence for the lifelong impact of religion on physical and mental health.  Global health experts identify the role of religious institutions in providing health care and influencing health policy.  And clinical researchers describe the role of religion in providing social support, social control, and social capital in the context of three epidemics of our time: HIV/AIDS, pandemic influenza, and Alzheimer's disease.  The editor of this groundbreaking volume argues that research on the social determinants of health should include religion if it is to have a complete picture of critical influences on population health. 

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture
Other professions or practice related to public health
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe the evidence for religion as a determinant of physical and mental health.

Keyword(s): Religion, Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the editor and author of Religion as a Social Determinant of Public Health, to be published by Oxford University Press. 35 authors from public health, social science, religion, medicine, nursing, and law at Emory University collaborated on this effort. I am Director of Emory's Religion and Public Health Collaborative and my research on religion and health, particularly among elderly persons, was among the first to draw attention to this social determinant.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.