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Religion and Well–being: Assessing the Evidence

Religion and Well–being: Assessing the Evidence

Is religion good for ‘well–being’? This report evaluates the evidence from nearly 140 academic studies. (2016)

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It is often reported that religion is good for ‘well–being’. But what do we mean by ‘religion’ and what do we mean by ‘well–being’? Neither term is exactly self–explanatory. 

This report evaluates the evidence from nearly 140 academic studies conducted over the last three decades examining the relationship between religion and well–being in a wide range of countries and contexts.

It clarifies the key terms, showing how ‘religion’ has been used to cover a multitude of subtly different concepts (e.g. religious affiliation, subjective religiosity, religious belief, religious group participation, and religious personal participation), as has ‘well–being’ (e.g. subjective well–being, mental health, physical health, and health supporting behaviours).

By doing so the report not only clarifies the extent to which religion is good for well–being, but begins to explain what this means, adding detail to the big familiar picture.

Ultimately it confirms that big picture – religion is indeed good for well–being – but by showing the nuances of that relationship, Religion and Well–being hopes to inform the debate about how society should capitalise on this important resource.

Read an Executive Summary of the report here.


Authors:

Nick Spencer is Research Director at Theos.

Gillian Madden is a former research assistant at Theos. She read Politics and International Relations at Macquarie University (Sydney) and has an MA in Christian Leadership from St Mellitus College.

Clare Purtill is a former research assistant at Theos. She read Theology and Religion at Durham University and has an MA in Christian Theology (Catholic Studies).

Joseph Ewing is a former research assistant at Theos. He read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Oxford University. 

 Image by Yuganov Konstantin from shutterstock.com available under licence

Nick Spencer, Gillian Madden, Clare Purtill and Joseph Ewing

Nick Spencer, Gillian Madden, Clare Purtill and Joseph Ewing

Nick is Research Director at Theos.


Gillian is a Research Assistant. She joined in 2015.


Clare is a Research Assistant. She joined in 2015.


Joseph is a Research Assistant. He joined in 2016.

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