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SPIRITUAL PEOPLE ARE HEALTHIER: Mizzou researchers find, in study of five different faiths

A greater sense of connectedness

COLUMBIA, 11/13/12 (Beat Byte) -- It doesn't matter what religion you belong to:  spirituality will enhance your health, according to University of Missouri researchers who say health care providers should tailor treatments and rehabilitation programs to patients' spiritual inclinations.
 
"With increased spirituality, people reduce their sense of self and feel a greater sense of oneness and connectedness with the rest of the universe," said study co-author Dan Cohen, Mizzou assistant professor of religious studies.  
 
He is also quick to emphasize that being spiritual is not the same as simply going to church.   Spirituality has more to do with personality than adherence to religious practices.   As a personality trait, it reduces self-centeredness and increases a sense of belonging to a larger whole.

With lead author Brick Johnstone of the Mizzou Department of Health Psychology; Dong Yoon of the Mizzou School of Social Work; and Laura Schopp of the Mizzou Department of Health Psychology, Cohen surveyed Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Catholics and Protestants to find correlations among self-reported mental and physical health, personality factors, and spirituality.  
 
Across all five faiths, greater spirituality equated to better mental health, lower neuroses, and greater extroversion.

"Spiritual beliefs may be a coping device to help individuals deal emotionally with stress," Cohen said. "The mental health of people recovering from cancer, stroke, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, for instance, appears to be related significantly to positive spiritual beliefs."
 
Likewise, through spiritual interventions such as religious-based counseling and meditation, health care workers can help patients minimize negative ideas rooted in spirituality or religion, such as the tendency to view misfortune as a divine curse, Cohen explained.
 
The team's paper, “Relationships among Spirituality, Religious Practices, Personality Factors, and Health for Five Different Faiths” was published in the Journal of Religion and Health.

 
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