Harvard Study Finds U.S. Healthcare Workers Who Regularly Attend Church Are at Lower Risk of ‘Deaths from Despair’

A study of the well-being of healthcare workers in the United States found that those who regularly attend worship services are at a lower risk of deaths related to alcohol, drugs, or suicide, collectively known as “deaths from despair.”

Researchers with the T. H. Chan School of Public Health at Harvard University had a study published last week in the journal JAMA Psychiatry titled “Religious Service Attendance and Deaths Related to Drugs, Alcohol, and Suicide Among US Health Care Professionals.

The research drew from a sample of 66,492 female registered nurses via the Nurses’ Health Study II of 2001-2017 and 43,141 male healthcare professionals drawn from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1988-2014.

According to the researchers, women who attended religious services at least once per week had a 68% lower hazard of death from despair compared to peers who did not, while men who attended worship at least once a week had a 33% lower hazard compared to men who never attended.

“… this study suggests that religious service attendance was associated with lower risk of deaths from despair among both men and women, accounting for a wide range of potential confounders (including other aspects of social integration),” stated the Discussion section of the study.

“Findings of this study were congruent with previous evidence suggesting that religious service attendance was inversely associated with all-cause mortality and various factors associated with despair … positively associated with psychosocial well-being outcomes, such as greater purpose in life … and often more strongly associated with subsequent health compared with other aspects of social integration.”

In noting its limitations, the researchers cautioned that their study examined a section of the country with higher than average educational background and that other religious practices were not considered.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Michael Gryboski

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