CNN reported that a new study conducted by Dr. Tyler J. VanderWeele, professor of epidemiology in the Harvard School of Public Health published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, suggests that regular attendance of church services may help increase the longevity of people.
This research is not new for over the last 20 years, studies have shown that religious service attendance is associated with better physical and mental health. Medical articles have indicated that church attendance is related with a 30 per cent reduction in depression, a five-fold reduction in the likelihood of suicide, and a 30 per cent reduction in mortality, over 16 years of follow-up.
But recently, the study by Dr. VanderWeele showed that compared with women who never attended religious services, women who attended more than once a week had a 33 per cent lower mortality risk during the study period. And those who attended weekly had a 26 per cent lower risk and those who attended less than once a week had a 13 per cent lower risk.
Researchers in the Nurses’ Health Study examined data on nearly 75,000 middle-age female nurses in the United States answering questions about their church attendance between 1992 and 2012 and about other aspects of their lives over the years.
Dr. VanderWeele said, that the study revealed that church attendance could promote a sense of meaning and purpose in life and self-discipline. And he added that “Our study suggests that for health, the benefits outweigh the potentially negative effects,” such as guilt, anxiety or intolerance.”
The research also suggests that because of a message of hope or faith at religious services, there are much more optimism among the attendees and the depression rates are lower; and these factors in turn positively enhance physical health and longevity. And he added that although the study did not look into the association in men, previous research suggested that male churchgoers likewise benefited.
All of this proposes that religious service attendance is an essential social cause for overall health. And it is a factor that should be taken into consideration in public health debates. In a time when people are identifying themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’ and in which the term ‘organized religion’ inclines to carry negative undertones, this empirical research tests proposes that personal spirituality is essential for a person’s health and longevity.