Spirituality can be one of the ways individuals find meaning, hope, comfort and inner peace in their lives. Many people find spirituality through religion, some find it through music, art or a connection with nature, and others may find it in their values and principles . Some research shows that some virtues connected to spirituality such as positive beliefs, comfort and strength gained from religious practices, meditation and prayer can contribute to healing and a sense of well-being .
The relationship between religious and spiritual beliefs on population health and health behaviors has been explored over several decades and across various disciplines. Religious variables have consistently been found to have a direct relationship to physical and mental health . For example, some observational studies suggest that people who have regular spiritual practices tend to live longer. Patients who are spiritual may utilize their beliefs in coping with illness, pain, and life stresses. Some studies also indicate that those who are spiritual tend to have a more positive outlook and a better quality of life .
At the same time – research has also indicated potential societal tensions that can exist between religion and health – we have seen this in relation to family planning, HIV/AIDS, and reproduction .
In the District, 77% of adults are estimated to identify with an organized faith community and 74% share that religion is important to their lives .
DC Health coordinates a Places of Worship Advisory Board (POWAB) as a collection of many different District and regional faith leaders, public health workers, businesses, and community advocates. The POWAB works in partnership with the DC Health to develop and nurture an interfaith network that advocates for the resources, policies and programs that prevent and treat infectious diseases, eliminate disparities and promote whole person health.
Data Sources & Resources
1. American Family Physicians. Spirituality and Health. 2001.
2. Springer Publishing. Religion, Spirituality and Health: A Social Scientific Approach. 2017.
3. Puchalski, Christina. The Role of Spirituality in Health Care. Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings Journal, 2001.
4. Pew Research Center. Religious Landscape Study: Adults in the Washington, DC metro area. 2014.
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