Religion, health and medicine in African Americans: implications for physicians.

University of Michigan School of Social Work, USA.
Journal of the National Medical Association (Impact Factor: 0.91). 03/2005; 97(2):237-49.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Recent years have seen a burgeoning of research and writing on the connections between religion and health. The very best of this work comes from epidemiologic studies of African Americans. This paper summarizes results of these investigations, including findings identifying effects of religious participation on both physical and mental health outcomes. Evidence mostly supports a protective religious effect on morbidity and mortality and on depressive symptoms and overall psychological distress among African Americans. This paper also carefully discusses what the results of these studies mean and do not mean, an important consideration due to frequent misinterpretations of findings on this topic. Because important distinctions between epidemiologic and clinical studies tend to get glossed over, reports of religion-health associations oftentimes draw erroneous conclusions that foster unrealistic expectations about the role of faith and spirituality in health and healing. Finally, implications are discussed for clinical practice, medical education and public health.

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