Spiritual Struggles and Interleukin-6: Assessing Potential Benefits and Potential Risks

Neal Krause, Kenneth I. Pargament, Gail Ironson, R. David Hayward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to evaluate the relationship between spiritual struggles and levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) with a subsample (N = 943) of participants who took part in a nationwide survey. This study, which was completed in 2014, was conducted in the United States. Spiritual struggles refer to difficulties that a person may encounter with his or her faith and include having a troubled relationship with God, encountering difficulties with religious others, and being unable to find a sense of ultimate meaning in life. Based on the notion that spiritual struggles may be associated with personal growth as well physical health problems, it was hypothesized that there is a nonlinear relationship between the two: levels of IL-6 will decline at relatively low levels of spiritual struggles, but levels of IL-6 will increase as spiritual struggles become more severe. The findings support this hypothesis and suggest there is a quadratic relationship between spiritual struggles and IL-6. The clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-294
Number of pages16
JournalBiodemography and Social Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Anthropology
  • Genetics


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