Role of Religiosity in the Lives of the Low-Income Population: A Comprehensive Review of the Evidence. Health Practitioner Perspectives


The interest in the influence of religion on health is due, in part, to the practical implications for service delivery. Some physicians note that the science of medicine is meant to be rational, but the healing of patients is relational and goes beyond the purely scientific realm (Fosarelli, 2008). A holistic view of treatment requires health care providers to be responsible for treating the whole person rather than narrowly defined health problems; holistic providers argue that religion and spirituality, which are important in the lives of many Americans, are dimensions that should be considered when providing health services (Koenig, 2008a). Religious denominations also promulgate specific beliefs about health that could be positive or negative for health practices. On one hand, these beliefs can be useful for providers to understand when addressing medical care issues, including mental health and preventive health behavior, and in formulating treatment plans (Pargament, 2007). On the other hand, some patients may not be comfortable making their preferences known. As Sloan et al. (2000, p. 1915) note, Many patients regard their religious faith as even more personal and private than their health. While there is disagreement about the extent of religions influence on health and for which groups, there is also growing recognition that religious and spiritual beliefs are factors that should be considered in studying health behavior and treatment (Miller & Thoresen, 2003).

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