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Faith and Healing

Linda Gundersen
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Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 2000;132(2):169-172. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-132-2-200001180-00102
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Studies suggesting that church going, religious beliefs, and prayer can improve morbidity and mortality have increasingly received attention in medical journals and the general media. One study at Duke University concluded that steady church attendance improves health and prolongs life (J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1999; 54:M370-6). Some authorities, however, believe that researchers often use flawed methods to study the relation between health and religion. They point out that the cause-and-effect relations are frequently unclear because religious persons, who are often defined as regular attendees of worship services, are in general already healthier than nonreligious persons. In fact, several studies that report the beneficial effects of religion do not adequately adjust for health behaviors or sociodemographic factors, thereby casting substantial doubt on their conclusions.





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