Avenues for Future Research
This chapter explores avenues for future research in the area of religion, spirituality and psychoneuroimmunology. Recommendations are made based in part on a recent conference at Duke University Medical Center that brought together the world's leading experts in psychoneuroimmunology to discuss the future of research on religion and immune function. This chapter describes what went on during that conference and then discusses areas of research that conference participants and chapter authors felt should have the highest priority. Because the immune response is part of the “stress response”, one recurring theme was the need to study spirituality or religion as a potential moderator of the stress response in situations of high stress. This could include populations at risk for negative outcome from stress, such as Scandinavians at high risk for suicide or Irish Catholics at high risk for alcoholism. Other specific health effects might be studied as well, such as wound healing, responses to viral illness, or immune responses following administration of vaccines.
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