Outlook: Newsletter of the Society of Behavorial Medicine
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Landmark Spirituality and Health Survey to be Presented at Annual Meeting

John M. Salsman, PhD, and Andrea D. Clements, PhD, Spirituality and Health SIG co-chairs

Empirical studies in the past two decades have demonstrated significant associations of selected spiritual and religious factors with important health and disease outcomes across multiple acute and chronic conditions. The Society of Behavioral Medicine’s (SBM) Spirituality and Health Special Interest Group (SIG) seeks to encourage and support well-designed empirical research that sheds clarifying light on what processes are at work. Research can more clearly identify and clarify in what ways spiritual and religious factors may influence health, positively or negatively. An important example of emerging research in this area is the Landmark Spirituality and Health Survey which will be featured during the Spirituality and Health SIG’s midday meeting on April 24 from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at the 2015 SBM Annual Meeting in San Antonio, TX.

The Landmark Spirituality and Health Survey is one of the largest studies that has been done to date on the relationship between religion and health. This face-to-face survey was funded by an $8 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation. Interviews with 3,010 adults of all ages from across the coterminous United States were completed in November 2014. Detailed information on religion and health were obtained. Included among the health measures are measured height, weight, blood pressure (two readings), and hip/waist circumference. Blood spot samples were also gathered from study participants so that measures of a range of biomarkers could be obtained including IL-6, cholesterol, C-reactive protein, and hemoglobin A1C. Neal Krause, PhD, the principal investigator, will be presenting preliminary findings from the study at the upcoming SBM Annual Meeting. The results suggest that God-mediated control beliefs offset the deleterious effects of living in deteriorated neighborhoods (e.g., risk of having hypertension). God-mediated control refers to the belief that God works together with study participants to resolve the problems and challenges that arise in life. These results were obtained after controlling for a range of well-known correlates of hypertension including exercise, BMI, smoking, and race.

Dr. Krause’s work is just one of many examples of how research on spirituality and health may provide linkages to other SIGs. In fact, members of the Spirituality and Health SIG are also members of other SIGs including the Evidence-Based Behavioral Medicine SIG (43.3%), Complementary and Integrative Medicine SIG (40.9%), Ethnic Minority and Multicultural Health SIG (40.4%), Cancer SIG (39.2%), and Multiple Health Behavior Change SIG (33.9%). To learn more about who we are, what we do, and how to get involved, please plan to attend the Spirituality and Health SIG Business Meeting and Breakfast Roundtable on April 23 from 7:30 to 8:15 a.m. Please mark your calendars and plan to attend both of these important SIG events. We look forward to seeing many of you in San Antonio!