Spirituality and health: What we know, what we need to know

Linda K. George, David B. Larson, Harold G. Koenig, Michael E. McCullough

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

422 Scopus citations


Spirituality and religion have been seen as beneficial, harmful, and irrelevant to health. We examine the recent research on this topic. We focus on (a) defining spirituality and religion both conceptually and operationally; (b) the relationships between spirituality/religion and health; and (c) priorities for future research. Although the effect sizes are moderate, there typically are links between religious practices and reduced onset of physical and mental illnesses, reduced mortality, and likelihood of recovery from or adjustment to physical and mental illness. The three mechanisms underlying these relationships involve religion increasing healthy behaviors, social support, and a sense of coherence or meaning. This research is based on religion measures, however, and it should be emphasized that spirituality may be different.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)102-116
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social and Clinical Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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