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The Link Between Religion and HealthPsychoneuroimmunology and the Faith Factor$
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Harold G. Koenig and Harvey J. Cohen

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780195143607

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195143607.001.0001

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The Connection between Psychoneuroimmunology and Religion

The Connection between Psychoneuroimmunology and Religion

(p.11) 1 The Connection between Psychoneuroimmunology and Religion
The Link Between Religion and Health


Oxford University Press

Psychoneuroimmunology is the study of how social and psychological factors affect neuroendocrine and immune functioning. Religion involves beliefs about the transcendent, as well as private or communal practices and rituals that reflect devotion or commitment to those beliefs. This chapter reviews research which examines the relationships between religion, mental health, and social support. If there is an association between religious involvement, better mental health and greater social support, and if mental health and social support contribute to better immune functioning, then perhaps religious practices could also have an impact on immune function. This could help explain recent findings on the relationship between religion and physical health, particularly the rather consistent finding linking religious activity to greater longevity. While still quite preliminary, a few studies have actually documented an association between religion and immune function. The role of religion in coping with stress, as well as in mortality and overall well-being, is also discussed.

Keywords:   psychoneuroimmunology, mental health, social support, immune functioning, longevity, stress, well-being, mortality

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