The Link between Religion and Health: Psychoneuroimmunology and the Faith Factor

Harold G. Koenig, (Editor), Harvey Jay Cohen (Editor) / Hardcover / Oxford University Press, Incorporated / January 2002

During the past three decades, hundreds of separate research studies conducted by different investigators studying different populations throughout the world have reported a relationship between religious involvement and better physical health. Why this connection between religion and physical health exists, however, remains largely a mystery. Because of the close connection between religion and mental health, and the increasingly understood connection between mental health and immune functioning, we proposed the possibility that religious involvement might impact physical health through neuroendocrine and immune mechanisms. In this book, twelve of the world’s leading psychoneuroimmunologists, theologians, and physicians review the effects of stress on the immune system and see how this knowledge might inform us about the religion-health relationship. Scientists, educators, and students will find here a gold mine of ideas and possible projects, as well as thoughtful discussions by eminent theologians and sociologists about the religious and societal implications of such research. The general reader will discover in this book a fascinating expose of the mind-body relationship — a relationship that may help provide a rational explanation of how devout religious beliefs and practices might impact not only their sense of well-being and quality of life, but also their physical health and longevity.