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Is frequent religious attendance really conducive to better health?: Toward an epidemiology of religion

Author

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  • Levin, Jeffrey S.
  • Vanderpool, Harold Y.

Abstract

Although hundreds of published studies have addressed the effects of religion on morbidity and mortality, many investigators may be unaware of this literature. This paper begins with an analysis of an important subset of these studies--those 27 which operationalize 'religiosity' as religious attendance-- and which, taken as a whole, point to a consistent salutary effect for frequent attendance. Upon identifying several pervasive epistemological, methodological, and analytical problems with these studies, however, this paper shows that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that religious attendance is positively and significantly related to health. Nevertheless, the authors present a theoretical basis for expecting such associations. This framework is included in a brief primer on religion for epidemiologists and other sociomedical scientists interested in exploring the health-related effects of religious factors. Finally, a possible scenario for the development of an epidemiology of religion is discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • Levin, Jeffrey S. & Vanderpool, Harold Y., 1987. "Is frequent religious attendance really conducive to better health?: Toward an epidemiology of religion," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 24(7), pages 589-600, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:24:y:1987:i:7:p:589-600
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    Cited by:

    1. Hong, Ding, 2012. "Health and Christianity: Controlling for Omitted Variable Bias by Using the Data of Twins and Siblings," MPRA Paper 41334, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Guiso, Luigi & Sapienza, Paola & Zingales, Luigi, 2003. "People's opium? Religion and economic attitudes," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(1), pages 225-282, January.
    3. Jonathan Gruber, 2005. "Religious Market Structure, Religious Participation, and Outcomes: Is Religion Good for You?," NBER Working Papers 11377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Damiano Fiorillo & Nunzia Nappo, 2014. "Job satisfaction in Italy: individual characteristics and social relations," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 41(8), pages 683-704, August.

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