Regular church attendance significantly lowers risk of "death from despair": Harvard study

by Laura Mize · May 13th, 2020 12:34 pm

A newly published study of health care workers undertaken by Harvard University researchers has found that those who attend church at least once a week are significantly less likely to die from suicide or from causes related to alcohol or drugs. — known as "deaths from despair."

According to the study, females who go to church at least once weekly are 68% less likely to die a death from despair than their non-attending counterparts. Among males, the risk is 33% lower for those with weekly attendance than among non-churchgoers.

The journal JAMA Psychiatry published the study, which included nearly 110,000 participants.

The study's discussion section states that the results are consistent with previous research "suggesting that religious service attendance was inversely associated with all-cause mortality and various factors associated with despair … positively associated with psychosocial well-being outcomes, such as greater purpose in life … and often more strongly associated with subsequent health compared with other aspects of social integration."

Ying Chen, the study's lead author, told The Harvard Gazette the findings stand out especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, "in part because clinicians are facing such extreme work demands and difficult conditions, and in part because many religious services have been suspended.

"We need to think what might be done to extend help to those at risk for despair," he said.


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