Study connects religious service attendance to less depression

by Deborah Braconnier report

(Medical Xpress) -- A new study published in the Journal of Religion and Health has connected the regular attendance of religious services with an increased level of optimism and a decreased risk of depression.

As a follow-up to a 2008 report from the ’s Health Initiative that showed regular attendance of increased life expectancy, this new study looked at 92,539 post-menopausal women over the age of 50. The religious affiliations of all the participants, as well as their social and economic statuses, were diverse.

Led by Eliezer Schnall from the Yeshiva University in Manhattan, the results showed that out of the participants that attended services regularly, 56 percent were more likely to be optimistic about their lives. It also showed that 27 percent of the participants were less likely to be depressed than those who did not attend services regularly.

Of those that were included in the research, 34 percent of the women said they had not attended services within the last month. Of those that attended, 21 percent were less than once a week, 30 percent were weekly and 14 percent attended activities more than once a week.

After the 2008 study showed that regular attendance of religious services by women reduced their risk of death by 20 percent, the researchers wanted to see what factors may contribute to that risk reduction and believe they could be related to psychological factors. The Women’s Health Initiative study began in 1991 and is funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in an effort to track women’s and habits.

Schnall cautions that these results and their study apply only to women, and older women at that. The benefit of regular religious service attendance by younger women or men has not been looked at in this study. Past research has shown that older women tend to take more of a social role in religious activities and may gain the most from it.

More information: Psychological and Social Characteristics Associated with Religiosity in Women’s Health Initiative Participants, DOI: 10.1007/s10943-011-9549-6

Abstract
Measures of religiosity are linked to health outcomes, possibly indicating mediating effects of associated psychological and social factors. We examined cross-sectional data from 92,539 postmenopausal participants of the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study who responded to questions on religious service attendance, psychological characteristics, and social support domains. We present odds ratios from multiple logistic regressions controlling for covariates. Women attending services weekly during the past month, compared with those not attending at all in the past month, were less likely to be depressed [OR = 0.78; CI = 0.74–0.83] or characterized by cynical hostility [OR = 0.94; CI = 0.90–0.98], and more likely to be optimistic [OR = 1.22; CI = 1.17–1.26]. They were also more likely to report overall positive social support [OR = 1.28; CI = 1.24–1.33], as well as social support of four subtypes (emotional/informational support, affection support, tangible support, and positive social interaction), and were less likely to report social strain [OR = 0.91; CI = 0.88–0.94]. However, those attending more or less than weekly were not less likely to be characterized by cynical hostility, nor were they less likely to report social strain, compared to those not attending during the past month.

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daggoth
5 / 5 (4) Nov 14, 2011
What'd you expect? We tell children fairy tails to make them feel better, why would it be different from adults?
jbeekman
5 / 5 (7) Nov 14, 2011
Subtitle: "Ignorance *IS* bliss".
kevinrtrs
1.6 / 5 (11) Nov 14, 2011
Just from a purely logical point of view. Which would you rather have at age 65, say?

One fairytale telling you that "if you believe in Jesus as lord and saviour you'll live healthily and forever in paradise with no crime, violence, pain or suffering." versus another fairytale stating "there is nothing to look forward to at your time of death. Everything [i.e. the universe], including all your loving kids and grandkids, will eventually end in a cold dark nothingness".

Logically, which is more uplifting to look forward to?

Choose your fairytale with care.
Sean_W
5 / 5 (4) Nov 14, 2011
Depressed and pessimistic people might not enjoy getting up in the morning and faking a smile while glad-handing semi-strangers. There are times when correlation does NOT equal proof of causation.
Musashi
5 / 5 (2) Nov 14, 2011
Kevin, you should know belief isn't a matter of choice. We can't help but to subconsciously weigh the evidence we know and understand for or against a theory, and then believe or disbelieve in it. The only choice in the matter is how we present ourselves to others. I can't help but give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're NOT really gullible enough to believe in what you try to convince others and even yourself. In fact, I just assume 99% of religious people are more intelligent than what they pass themselves as...
wealthychef
5 / 5 (5) Nov 14, 2011
Just from a purely logical point of view. Which would you rather have at age 65, say?

One fairytale telling you that "if you believe in Jesus as lord and saviour you'll live healthily and forever in paradise with no crime, violence, pain or suffering." versus another fairytale stating "there is nothing to look forward to at your time of death. Everything [i.e. the universe], including all your loving kids and grandkids, will eventually end in a cold dark nothingness".

Logically, which is more uplifting to look forward to?

Choose your fairytale with care.


Good point. How about a third option, which is to admit that we don't know what happens after we die, and to focus on the good we can create in this life, regardless of a hypothetical reward in the afterlife. I understand that happiness is largely a reflection of the future you expect, but how about making up a future where you are remembered fondly as a man or woman of high ethics and good deeds?
xxbodachxx
5 / 5 (3) Nov 14, 2011
"Of those that were included in the research, 34 percent of the women said they had not attended services within the last month. Of those that attended, 21 percent were less than once a week, 30 percent were weekly and 14 percent attended activities more than once a week."

So of the respondants... ALL of them were already religious? IMO this isn't a properly conducted study if no non-believers were included... Can anyone find the entire study where I could see for certain that the reporting of the details are correct? I looked and could only find the summary abstract just like what is presented here. For me, there is not enough info to come to a conclusion at this point.
CHollman82
2.5 / 5 (13) Nov 14, 2011
Since physorg has started linking to this medicalxpress crap I think I've read two decent articles from them... they really are crap.

Come on, a study about the effects of religious belief that doesn't include non-believers? You've got to be kidding me... That's like taking 50 people who all eat Snickers bars at least once a week and doing a study to determine if they like Snickers bars and if they are happier when they get more Snickers bars...
TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Nov 14, 2011
Just from a purely logical point of view. Which would you rather have at age 65, say?
The truth kev, which is the FACT that your fairytale god does not exist because the book he wrote is full of lies.

Why doesnt this FACT depress you?
ekim
5 / 5 (1) Nov 14, 2011
I think Sean W hit the nail on the head. Depressed people usually don't participate in many social activities.
Callippo
5 / 5 (1) Nov 14, 2011
..and vice-versa: whatever activity will prevent depressions, not just the religious one. Amen.
Pirouette
4 / 5 (4) Nov 14, 2011
I never was much of a church-goer, even while a young person. I came to realize that people who attend church services and make a big deal of dressing up on Sunday, are just making a pretense of holiness on one day, then the rest of week is spent in various types of sin. Later, I decided that most people who try to avoid sinning and do good works, are only doing good because they fear what might happen to their soul if they DON'T do the right things. I realized that it wasn't just the desire to do the right thing BECAUSE it was the right thing to do, but fear of the afterlife. Rather, it was the fear of the unknown afterlife that FORCED them to not sin, instead of not sinning because it was the right thing to do for its OWN reason and not for any other reason.
Deesky
5 / 5 (1) Nov 14, 2011
Come on, a study about the effects of religious belief that doesn't include non-believers?

Not only that, but people that get together regularly in social groups (regardless of reason, be it religion, card games or bowling) tend to feel better and so are less depressed. Especially the elderly which tend to become more isolated later in life.

This isn't rocket science. The study really is crap.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Nov 15, 2011
Logically, which is more uplifting to look forward to?

The one that is not a lie.

Call me crazy: But I don't like to be lied to - even if the lie would make me feel better in the short term.
But in the long term such a lie takes away my self determination because basically what it means is, that someone else is now in charge of making me feel happy or not.
And that without me even having a chance to say otherwise.

So I would not only be living a lie but also be a slave to those telling me those lies. No, thanks.

As to the article: Whenever I have attended a religious service and looked around at the people there I get depressed. Because I know they have fallen in the above mentioned trap. Such a state of "ignorance is bliss" is something I would not wish upon my worst enemy. I have too much respect for human beings for that.
Sigh
5 / 5 (1) Nov 15, 2011
Just from a purely logical point of view. Which would you rather have at age 65, say?
The truth kev, which is the FACT that your fairytale god does not exist because the book he wrote is full of lies.

Why doesnt this FACT depress you?

If it were a fact that a non-existent entity had written a book, I'd be both excited and perplexed, rather than depressed, no matter the content of the book.

Apart from that, I agree. Kevin seems to say you should choose your beliefs not based on evidence, but based on whether you like the beliefs. Wishful thinking is not rational.
dgreyz
1 / 5 (1) Nov 15, 2011
Kevinrts shows the perfect example of what exactly the problem is.

Even if you're an atheist, you are constantly faced with ideas/logic/arts/etc that somewhere know their origin from religion, which will simply get to you without even really noticing. You will be indoctrinated resistance is futile.

It's those things that could actually be causing depressions as your rational world still collides with these micro religious ideas. Just like Kevinrts mentioned the fairytail of "There is NOTHING to look forward to" and "Cold dark nothingness" These are religious descriptions, not atheist descriptions.

Sadly it's still too easy for even an atheist to fall for such obvious but also the less evident religious influences.
Vendicar_Decarian
2 / 5 (4) Nov 15, 2011
As an Athiest, I am constantly in a mood of mild amusement, primarily over the actions of the self deluded, logically incoherent, Christian apes that I see every day who spend their days in a zombie like trance only barely aware of, and responsive to, the real world around them.
Ionian
5 / 5 (1) Nov 15, 2011
I bet that regular attendance of atheist or secular humanist group meetings has the same benefits.
Nerdyguy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 15, 2011
Kevin, you should know belief isn't a matter of choice. We can't help but to subconsciously weigh the evidence we know and understand for or against a theory, and then believe or disbelieve in it. The only choice in the matter is how we present ourselves to others. I can't help but give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're NOT really gullible enough to believe in what you try to convince others and even yourself. In fact, I just assume 99% of religious people are more intelligent than what they pass themselves as...


Musashi, I have to disagree with your premise about belief not being a matter of choice. Of course, I can only speak for myself in this matter, but I can point to many issues in my life where I've applied logic, reason, and education to understand that issue and, in some cases, actually change my point of view.

Perhaps it would be more reasonable to say belief is not a matter of choice for some people (a majority???)
Nerdyguy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 15, 2011
"Of those that were included in the research, 34 percent of the women said they had not attended services within the last month. Of those that attended, 21 percent were less than once a week, 30 percent were weekly and 14 percent attended activities more than once a week."

So of the respondants... ALL of them were already religious? IMO this isn't a properly conducted study if no non-believers were included... Can anyone find the entire study where I could see for certain that the reporting of the details are correct? I looked and could only find the summary abstract just like what is presented here. For me, there is not enough info to come to a conclusion at this point.


Your conclusions seem to be accurate, which is likely why this "unscientific" study was only published in a religious-specific journal.

Anyway, it's only offered by Springer and Swets, so you'll have to pay for either. $34 from Springer. Uh, no thanks!

http://www.ncbi.n...22069057
CHollman82
1.1 / 5 (7) Nov 15, 2011
Musashi, I have to disagree with your premise about belief not being a matter of choice. Of course, I can only speak for myself in this matter, but I can point to many issues in my life where I've applied logic, reason, and education to understand that issue and, in some cases, actually change my point of view.

Perhaps it would be more reasonable to say belief is not a matter of choice for some people (a majority???)


No, it's not a choice for anyone. You are mistakenly assuming that your logic, reason, education, and the desire for knowledge that lead to them was a choice that you made... keep going back further, every "decision" you make is influenced by past events in your life, events that you largely had no control of... go back all the way to the beginning, you didn't choose to be born, you didn't choose what circumstances you were born into... these things dictate the experiences you will have in your life and those experiences shape you.
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 15, 2011
As an Athiest, I am constantly in a mood of mild amusement, primarily over the actions of the self deluded, logically incoherent, Christian apes that I see every day who spend their days in a zombie like trance only barely aware of, and responsive to, the real world around them.


Quick question: would anyone on this public forum be surprised at:

1) Your clear disdain of anyone who holds a different view than you.

2) Your constant need to mock anyone with whom you don't agree.

3) Your clear hatred for anyone who is not.....you?
Nerdyguy
4 / 5 (1) Nov 15, 2011

No, it's not a choice for anyone. You are mistakenly assuming that your logic, reason, education, and the desire for knowledge that lead to them was a choice that you made... keep going back further, every "decision" you make is influenced by past events in your life, events that you largely had no control of... go back all the way to the beginning, you didn't choose to be born, you didn't choose what circumstances you were born into... these things dictate the experiences you will have in your life and those experiences shape you.


I would agree with this by and large. Mushashi, though, was making the point that we essentially have our minds made up already about everything. And then we try to use tools like logical evaluation to justify what we already feel. I agree with you that every point in life influences us, but I would not agree that there is no such thing as choice. That would amount to an argument against free will.
Pirouette
1.5 / 5 (2) Nov 15, 2011
Free choice is a natural turn of events when a person, even a teenager, has come to a conclusion that is perceived as a better alternative to that which the person has been indoctrinated. A 15 year old, for instance, if abused at home, may apply to become an "emancipated minor", and takes responsibility for himself legally. That also is true for changing one's religion or becoming an atheist. A lot of thought needs to go into a change of life style, values, beliefs, etc. Whichever way a person turns and turns to, it should be respected. I think it is a big mistake for atheists to spend a lot time and effort in worrying about the existence of religious belief. Why it is such an irritant to them is something I will never be able to fathom. I have never heard of Creationists deciding that atheists must be eliminated or converted and reeducated. Even if Pentecostals come to one's door to preach, one can always not open the door.
Pirouette
3 / 5 (2) Nov 15, 2011
Christianity was originally to be a Jewish sect religion preached to the gentile masses. The original Christian dogma of the Jews was changed drastically by the Romans to reflect their own pagan gods and goddesses. The Sabbath day was changed to Sunday also and Passover eliminated. Thus, the Jewishness of the religion was eliminated and the Jewish religion itself became an anti-Jesus movement, which was taught to Christian believers as such. It was because of this that the so-called "anti-semitism" began.
To most christian believers, the idea that the Holy Bible is simply a book of Jewish history never or very seldom occurs to them. They never ask themselves, "if I believe in this book, does that make me a Jew also?". Of course it does not. . .but Christians don't bother to think.
Therefore, it is more apparent that it is the "belonging to a group" that is of utmost importance and the acceptance of the group of each individual member that keeps them believing.
Nerdyguy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 15, 2011
I have never heard of Creationists deciding that atheists must be eliminated or converted and reeducated.


Perhaps you've never heard of it, but it is perhaps the single most-common shared element among the proselytizing sects of Christianity, and certainly among Muslims. Jews, Hindus and Buddhist tend to have a more conservative approach to the issue.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (3) Nov 16, 2011
Poor NerdGuy. He thinks the world revolves around me.

It really doesn't you know.

But his silly comments do amuse me.

"1) Your clear disdain of anyone who holds a different view than you.

2) Your constant need to mock anyone with whom you don't agree.

3) Your clear hatred for anyone who is not.....you?"
Vendicar_Decarian
1.8 / 5 (6) Nov 16, 2011
Study published by the "Journal of Religion and Health"....

Apes... Got to love them entertaining Religious Apes...
CHollman82
1.1 / 5 (7) Nov 16, 2011
I would agree with this by and large.


Very glad to hear that, maybe we can have an interesting discussion about it. Most people are quick to dismiss the idea because it scares them.

but I would not agree that there is no such thing as choice. That would amount to an argument against free will.


What's wrong with that? What is "will"... is it a fundamental force like gravity or electromagnetism? How exactly do you think you have control over the chemical (physical) reactions in your brain that cause you to take action? Are these reactions in your brain not governed by the same laws of physics as everything else? Is there a special force or special physical laws that exist only in the matter that makes up a conscious entities brain? I think the onus would be on you to provide evidence for that, because it's probably as well supported as any idea about god.
ekim
5 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2011
Just from a purely logical point of view. Which would you rather have at age 65, say?

One fairytale telling you that "if you believe in Jesus as lord and saviour you'll live healthily and forever in paradise with no crime, violence, pain or suffering." versus another fairytale stating "there is nothing to look forward to at your time of death. Everything [i.e. the universe], including all your loving kids and grandkids, will eventually end in a cold dark nothingness".

Logically, which is more uplifting to look forward to?

Choose your fairytale with care.

Of course, with advancing breakthroughs in science, death from natural causes will no longer exist. Why believe in an afterlife that may never happen. Belief in science and everlasting life on earth is a far more uplifting outcome.
FrankHerbert
2 / 5 (8) Nov 16, 2011
I have never heard of Creationists deciding that atheists must be eliminated or converted and reeducated.


It's one thing to claim you have never met what you describe, but to have never heard of it? Have you ever read a history book? Ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition? The Crusades?
Nerdyguy
1 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2011
Poor NerdGuy. He thinks the world revolves around me.

It really doesn't you know.

But his silly comments do amuse me.

"1) Your clear disdain of anyone who holds a different view than you.

2) Your constant need to mock anyone with whom you don't agree.

3) Your clear hatred for anyone who is not.....you?"


Yay for you?
Nerdyguy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2011
What is "will"... is it a fundamental force like gravity or electromagnetism? How exactly do you think you have control over the chemical (physical) reactions in your brain that cause you to take action? Are these reactions in your brain not governed by the same laws of physics as everything else? Is there a special force or special physical laws that exist only in the matter that makes up a conscious entities brain? I think the onus would be on you to provide evidence for that, because it's probably as well supported as any idea about god.


I guess I would say it's simpler than that. I don't disagree with you at all that what you mention above is what affects our choices. Your experiences and literally every sensation your brain has ever recorded shape your outlook. But, ask yourself this: have you ever made a decision, only to later become better informed about that decision, and had cause to change your mind? If so, you've made a choice.
Nerdyguy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2011
Of course, with advancing breakthroughs in science, death from natural causes will no longer exist. Why believe in an afterlife that may never happen. Belief in science and everlasting life on earth is a far more uplifting outcome.


You bring up an excellent point, ekim. I've often been puzzled by claims that space exploration and especially, discovery of sentient extraterrestrial life, will change religion forever. It's my belief that the churches will shrug this off fairly easily and in a short time will have modified their views to something like "God is everywhere, so of course life is everywhere".

But immortality, near immortality, or even just extending life very significantly (e.g., multiple centuries) will undoubtedly be a huge hurdle for religions. And a harder challenge to overcome in terms of keeping their core principles intact.
xxbodachxx
5 / 5 (2) Nov 16, 2011
"Your conclusions seem to be accurate, which is likely why this "unscientific" study was only published in a religious-specific journal."


Thanks Nerdguy. Now my secondary question... why would a serious health journal be picking up articles from a religious journal that attempts to usurp clout by connecting itself with medical topics with a hidden agenda to push propaganda on everyone...? I looked at the about us section of this site and is as follows: "...Medical Xpress features the most comprehensive coverage in medical research and health news in the fields of neuroscience, cardiology, cancer, HIV/AIDS, psychology, psychiatry, dentistry, genetics, diseases and conditions, medications and more..." Which sounds like a serious medical news journal. Why throw in all this hocus pocus which discredits the site? I don't get it....
CHollman82
1.3 / 5 (7) Nov 16, 2011
I guess I would say it's simpler than that. I don't disagree with you at all that what you mention above is what affects our choices. Your experiences and literally every sensation your brain has ever recorded shape your outlook. But, ask yourself this: have you ever made a decision, only to later become better informed about that decision, and had cause to change your mind? If so, you've made a choice.


Well, you and I are using the word "choice" very differently then. From one second to the next you are not the same person, but you don't chose who you become, who you become from one second to the next is governed by physical law like everything else as far as I am concerned.
kochevnik
1 / 5 (2) Nov 17, 2011
@Nerdyguy 3) Your clear hatred for anyone who is not.....you?
Classic xtian mantra. Anyone who doesn't await the return of the dead zombie Jew nailed to a stick is full of hatred. Xtians Hitler and Himler apparently just misread the bible. Xtians killing Jews and Muslims were simply cleansing the world of heretics, not committing an act of butchery.
Nerdyguy
5 / 5 (1) Nov 17, 2011
"Your conclusions seem to be accurate, which is likely why this "unscientific" study was only published in a religious-specific journal."


Thanks Nerdguy. Now my secondary question... why would a serious health journal be picking up articles from a religious journal that attempts to usurp clout by connecting itself with medical topics with a hidden agenda to push propaganda on everyone...? I looked at the about us section of this site and is as follows: "...Medical Xpress features the most comprehensive coverage in medical research and health news in the fields of neuroscience, cardiology, cancer, HIV/AIDS, psychology, psychiatry, dentistry, genetics, diseases and conditions, medications and more..." Which sounds like a serious medical news journal. Why throw in all this hocus pocus which discredits the site? I don't get it....


Quantity over quality would be my guess.
Pirouette
1.5 / 5 (2) Nov 18, 2011
I have never heard of Creationists deciding that atheists must be eliminated or converted and reeducated.


It's one thing to claim you have never met what you describe, but to have never heard of it? Have you ever read a history book? Ever heard of the Spanish Inquisition? The Crusades?


Once again you fail to comprehend my words or my meaning. I was referring ONLY to never hearing of Creationists deciding that ATHEISTS MUST BE ELIMINATED, etc. etc. I did not refer at all to the Catholic church and the Inquisition of the Jews. . .or the wars between the Catholics and Muslims. ATHEISTS. . .not Jews and not Muslims. Got it?
Czcibor
1 / 5 (1) Nov 18, 2011
I've got funny feeling that I see here classical discussion about global warming/evolution but taken in to reverse. For a change here we have secular left clearly in denial phase.

Face it: belonging to some social group that meets from time AND having some purpose in life makes people happy. There are other ways to fulfil those needs, but religion is one of them, which seems rather effective and easily accessible.

Ionian:
I bet that regular attendance of atheist or secular humanist group meetings has the same benefits.

Interesting idea, (it might work too) but it would not be so easy to find enough members of such organisations meeting regularly for research purposes. Even force attempts of creation of similar atheist groups in Stalin's SU failed so regardless of outcome I doubt that such groups can be an answer for general population.
ralbol
not rated yet Nov 20, 2011
Interestingly, there are numerous studies that tend to prove people with high IQs are more prone to depression...

There's a conclusion here and I'm sure most people can figure it out...
hyongx
not rated yet Nov 20, 2011
Interestingly, there are numerous studies that tend to prove people with high IQs are more prone to depression...


Maybe people 'with high IQs' are more likely to form a realistic world-image, rather than adapting the overly-optimistic outlook that makes life easier. some kind of defense mechanism

http://en.wikiped..._realism
LivaN
not rated yet Nov 21, 2011
Nerdyguy
Musashi, I have to disagree with your premise about belief not being a matter of choice.
Belief is not a choice. It is a function of a persons logic processing combined with input data. To imply we have a choice in what to believe is to say that a person, knowing choice A to be correct and choice B to be incorrect, may fool himself into believing that choice B is in fact correct. How do you believe something to be true that you know is false?

Nerdyguy
where I've applied logic, reason, and education to understand that issue and, in some cases, actually change my point of view.
Your choice (as CHollman82 pointed out, this isnt really a choice) is to gain additional input data, which may also have revised your logic processing ability. Did you actually have a choice at those times where you "changed" your point of view? Could you have, after realising your error, continue to believe the error?

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