Stress, Religious Involvement, and Cholesterol: Is It Better to Give than to Receive?

Neal Krause, Gail Ironson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study is to see if social support that is exchanged in religious institutions moderates the relationship between stressful life events and cholesterol. The data come from a nationwide survey of adults of all ages (N = 816). Based on data from blood samples, cholesterol was measured by subtracting high-density lipoprotein from total cholesterol. Questions were administered to assess how often study participants provide and receive spiritual support from fellow church members. Spiritual support is assistance that is exchanged with the explicit purpose of increasing the religious beliefs and behaviors of the recipient. Controls were established in the analyses for a number of health behaviors (e.g., exercise), other types of religious involvement (e.g., church attendance), and demographic characteristics (e.g., age, sex, education). The study variables were assessed with ordinary least squares regression procedures. The data suggest that providing spiritual support tends to reduce the magnitude of the relationship between stress and cholesterol. In contrast, similar stress-buffering effects were not observed with the measure of receiving spiritual support at church. The findings contribute to mounting evidence on the relationship between religion and health because they are based on biological measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12064
JournalJournal of Applied Biobehavioral Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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