The idea that religion and spirituality can have an impact on an individual beyond their beliefs, ethics, and peace of mind is nothing new. Recent research (published in the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality Journal) from the Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences has taken an important next step in the study of this phenomena.
The goal of the research was to do something that has never been done before — examine as many different axis as possible in order to paint a more complete picture of how these things all interact. As a result, a new theoretical model has emerged, focusing on the distinction between religion and spirituality and their differing effects on health, rather than lumping them together. For example, religion has a tendency to encourage better health habits, such as decreases in smoking and alcohol consumption, while spirituality is more closely related to emotional regulation and improvements to blood pressure. That rabbit hole is a deep one – and that’s the basis of their work.
While the road ahead is a long one, those working to illuminate these links hope that one day a pathway can be built from religion and spirituality towards supportive clinical interventions.