From ASPPH Friday Letter, January 12, 2018

Researchers from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health have published a paper in PLOS ONE that links regular attendance at religious services with improved health and lowered mortality. Dr. Ellen L. Idler, joint-appointed professor in Epidemiology at Rollins and Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Sociology, is lead author on the paper. Emory faculty Dr. Carol Hogue, Jules and Uldeen Terry Chair in Maternal and Child Health; Dr. John Blevins; and Dr. Mimi Kiser, are co-authors.

The researchers conducted an empirical study on data collected 2004-2014 through the University of Michigan’s Health and Retirement Study (HRS), which surveyed social and economic determinants of mortality in middle-aged and older adults, including religious factors.

“We wanted to link the research on religion—especially religious attendance—into the social determinants of health framework,” says  Dr. Idler.  This was an idea the paper’s authors also examined in their book, Religion as a Social Determinant of Public Health (Oxford University Press, 2014), edited by Dr. Idler and featuring chapters by Drs. Blevins, Kiser, and Hogue, in addition to numerous additional Emory faculty.

“With this paper, we were able to take a theory and a conceptual framework to real data and came back with some dramatic findings. “