Monday, September 26, 2011

Faith in good health

Here's a report that probably wont make it to the front pages of most newspapers. It's a literature review on the impact of spirituality/religiosity on mortality, and comparing it with other health interventions.

What the researchers from Sao Paolo in Brazil did was to identify 25 well recognized Health interventions and then performed a Medline review for these interventions for the years 1994 to 2009: they then did a similar review for studies on religiosity and spirituality  for the same period. They came up with 28 meta analyses and found that people with a higher religiosity/spirituality had an 18% reduction in mortality. This was better than 60% of the other Health initiatives.

To put this into context, having a religious or spiritual belief is as effective as taking a Statin or aspirin for heart disease, and is more effective than having airbags in cars or undergoing colo-rectal screening for bowel cancer.

Whilst I have no doubt that this report will not convince those who find it hard to "believe" that science is more than a well informed mystery, it certainly does put some hard facts behind the idea that we could all do with a little more "faith" sometimes!
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