Critics Review – Medicine, Religion & Health

W Online Exclusive Review
August 4, 2008

In the past decade, numerous studies have touted the positive impact of prayer and spiritual practice on physical health. Well-known Duke University physician and psychiatrist Koenig offers a practical overview of the benefits of the relationship between religion and medicine as well as a detailed survey of the ways in which religion and medicine might work together beneficially. Using research studies of medical patients, he demonstrates that many patients say that their religious practices and beliefs enable them to cope with their illnesses or diagnoses. Koenig broadens his study to focus on the ways that religious belief influences mental health, immunological and neurological diseases, cardiovascular problems and longevity. For example, one study links the incidence of type-II diabetes with nonattendance at religious services; those not attending such services were twice as likely as attendees to have elevated levels of a protein that predicts the development of the disease. Koenig’s helpful book concludes by encouraging health care professionals to be attentive to their patients’ religious behaviors as a part of their overall medical history. (Sept.)