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Religion and Spirituality as Neglected Causal Factors in Health: Epidemiologic Evidence
Tuesday, November 18, 2014: 8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
More than 3000 empirical studies have now examined relations between religion, spirituality, and a variety of health-related outcomes, as documented in the two editions of the Handbook of Religion and Health (Koenig et al, 2001, 2012). Religion and spirituality (R/S) have been theorized to causally influence health through a variety of mechanisms, including social connections, health behaviors, mental health, and religious methods of coping with stress. Public Health epidemiologic research, in the form of large population-based prospective studies, appears to have played an important role in prompting the recent interdisciplinary upsurge in interest in R/S and health relations (e.g., Strawbridge &c, 1997; Oman & Reed, 1998), spanning medicine, psychology, social work, and other fields. Studies have repeatedly linked R/S factors to different and usually more favorable profiles of health behavior and other modifiable risk factors that are often targeted in public health interventions. Ironically, however, R/S factors and evidence for their importance are often neglected in contemporary public health research, teaching, and practice, with many public health professionals remaining unaware of this literature or skeptical about the strength of the evidence.
In order to encourage greater awareness of R/S factors, this session will offer a set of inter-related presentations to familiarize attendees with this field. The session will present major conceptual models for how R/S factors may causally affect health, such as social ecological and life course perspectives, along with descriptions of supporting evidence. It will also review and summarize findings from the large number of systematic reviews that have now been conducted on R/S factors that relate to health variables. As an illustrative example, the session will present an (unpublished) 7-wave investigation of the relation between religious involvement and disability. The session will also describe a variety of methodological tools, challenges, and findings in assessing causality. The session will conclude with a panel discussion of possible implications for research, teaching, and practice.
Slightly expanded information on presentation: http://dougoman.org/apha2014/EpiRS.htm
Session Objectives: 1. Identify major theoretical frameworks that have been used in the study of religion/spirituality and health.
2. Describe the base of empirical evidence that has examined relations between religion/spirituality and health.
3. Demonstrate (illustrate) the epidemiologic study of the health implications of religion/spirituality using measures of religion and clinical measures of mobility/disability from 7 waves of H-EPESE.
4. Analyze the challenges involved in evaluating the extent that religious/spiritual factors exert a causal effect on health.
5. Evaluate some of the implications for causality from empirical findings to date.
Introduction and Welcome (Oman)
Panel Discussion: Possible Implications for Research, Teaching, and Practice (Moderator: Oman)
See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.
Organized by: Epidemiology
Endorsed by: Mental Health, APHA-Committee on Women's Rights
Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)