Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Make room for faith in healthcare, study says

Despite differences in rituals and beliefs among the world’s major religions, a new study shows that spirituality often enhances health regardless of a person’s faith.

Researchers from the University of Missouri say that health care providers could take advantage of this correlation between health—particularly mental health—and spirituality by tailoring treatments and rehabilitation programs to accommodate an individual’s spiritual inclinations.

“In many ways, the results of our study support the idea that spirituality functions as a personality trait,” says Dan Cohen, assistant teaching professor of religious studies and one of the co-authors of the study.

“With increased spirituality people reduce their sense of self and feel a greater sense of oneness and connectedness with the rest of the universe.

“What was interesting was that frequency of participation in religious activities or the perceived degree of congregational support was not found to be significant in the relationships between personality, spirituality, religion, and health.”

The study used the results of three surveys to determine if correlations existed among participants’ self-reported mental and physical health, personality factors, and spirituality in Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, and Protestants.

Across all five faiths, a greater degree of spirituality was related to better mental health, specifically lower levels of neuroticism and greater extraversion. Forgiveness was the only spiritual trait predictive of mental health after personality variables were considered.


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