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The Interaction of Religion and Health 

The Interaction of Religion and Health
Chapter:
The Interaction of Religion and Health
Author(s):

David B. Yaden

, and Andrew B. Newberg

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190690557.003.0005
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date: 09 April 2020

Religion and spirituality are an important part of many patients’ lives and influence healthcare and healthcare-related decisions. Measuring religious and spiritual beliefs is difficult and relies mostly on self report. As concepts, religion and spirituality overlap but also are distinct concepts. Religions often have specific rules or guidelines regarding sexual behavior, diet, drugs, and alcohol. These in turn may also affect psychological health and well-being. Religiousness has generally correlated with improved overall physical and mental health outcomes. Furthermore, religion and spirituality are sources of support and coping for many people. But religiousness can sometimes have negative influences such as in the case of cults or terrorism. Specific spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation, and yoga can have a direct effect on the brain and body. This chapter reviews the current understanding of how religious and spiritual beliefs and practices affect the brain and overall psychological health.

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