Why we studied church and meditation

Medical researchers often study or mention meditation for patients as an assumed “religion-free” method to reduce stress, but typically avoid mentioning church or Christianity.1 Does church help reduce stress and should it also be recommended?

What we did

  • Teleios reviewed medical articles from 1966 to 2015 in peer-reviewed medical literature that evaluated meditation* and church attendance # in physically healthy populations.

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  • Measures explored were general wellbeing and mental health markers including stress, anxiety and depression.

What it showed

Great news! Both church attendance and meditation have a positive impact on your wellbeing!

  • Of 37 articles reviewed, 16/16 meditation studies, and 18/21 church attendance papers, generally enhanced wellbeing (P=0.84).
  • However, church attendance may have additional benefits beyond stress reduction as noted in prior studies, such as: community service, prayer, socialization, praise, and confidence in a positive relationship with God based in a Biblical definition of eternal life as a free gift through faith in Christ’s sacrifice.2-5

What it means?

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For docs, go ahead, prescribe church to help!

A clinical practitioner, who believes a patient would benefit from a lifestyle improvement to reduce stress and enhance wellbeing, can feel confident in suggesting church attendance without promoting a specific denomination.

For the rest of us, hey, church helps us feel better!

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Summary: Attending church potentially may be considered by medical personnel, and society in general, as a way to enhance wellbeing.

*Meditation types reviewed
Mindfulness-based meditation
Transcendental meditation
Brain Wave Vibration meditation
Vipassana meditation
Maum meditation
Focused meditation
Mental silence-orientated meditation
Zen instruction meditation

#Church types reviewed
Christian
Protestant
Baptist
Church of Scotland
Greek Orthodox
Calvinist
Presbyterian

  1. McCord G, et al. Discussing spirituality with patients: a rational and ethical approach. Ann Fam Med 2004;2:356-61.
  2. MacIlvaine WR, et al. Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2013;19:251-5.
  3. van Olphen J, et al. Religious involvement, social support, and health among African-American women on the east side of Detroit. J Gen Intern Med 2003;18:549-57.
  4. Ryrie CC. Basic theology. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1999.
  5. MacIlvaine WR, et al. Association of strength of community service to personal wellbeing. Community Ment Health J 2014;50:577-82.
  6. For a copy of this infographic for your own use please click here.