Prayer for health is on the rise in the U.S. according to University of Massachusetts Researchers.
Prayer is a “critical coping resource” for health and mental health, according to May 2011 study by University of Massachusetts researchers.
A study published in the May 2011 Psychology of Religion and Spirituality conducted by Amy Wachholtz, director of health psychology at the University of Massachusetts and Usah Sambamoorthi indicates that prayer as a coping tool for health is on the increase. The report concludes that “it is critical for mental and physical health treatment providers to be aware of the prevalence of this coping resource.”
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts analyzed national trends concerning the use of prayer as a coping mechanism for health concerns. Data was compiled from the Alternative Medicine Supplement of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), from the years 2002 and 2007.
Those included in the survey were distributed into three groups, those who never prayed for health concerns, those who had prayed in the past 12 months and those who did not pray in the past 12 months for health concerns.
Prayer use concerning health concerns, including mental health concerns, increased in that five year time period from 43% in 2002 to 49% in 2007. The studies examined the prayer practices of 30,080 adults in 2002 (over 18 years old) and 23,393 adults in 2007.
Some of the statistics that were reported are that those with dental pain were more likely to use prayer to cope than those with no pain. The same was true for those who experienced any number of physical difficulties and pain, and also included depression and psychological distress, who, for a significant percentage of people, prayer is one coping method.
Females (56%, 2007) were more likely than males (40%, 2007) to use prayer, as were African Americans (67%, 2007), compared to 45 percent of Caucasians. Older and married individuals, as well as those whose health situation had changed, were also more likely to pray, while people with the highest incomes 15 percent less likely to pray than those with the lowest incomes. People who exercised regularly were also less inclined to pray about their health. However, contrary to expectations, those who were education beyond high school were more likely to use prayer as a coping resource than those less-educated.
Wachholtz is quoted as saying, "We're seeing a wide variety of prayer use among people with good income and access to medical care.” "People are not exchanging health insurance for prayer."
The positive correlation between all types of pain and prayer for health suggests that mental and physical health treatment provides should be aware of the prevalence of this coping resource.
References for Prayer and Health
1. Wachholtz, Amy; Sambamoorthi, Usha, (May 2011). National trends in prayer use as a coping mechanism for health concerns: Changes from 2002 to 2007. APA PsychNet Psychology of Religion and Spirituality
. Vol 3(2), May 2011, 67-77.
2. More Americans Praying About Health, Study Says; No Correlation Found Between Prayer for Health and Lack of Health Insurance, (May 23, 2011). Science Daily
Pages Related to Prayer and Health, Mental Health
Spirituality and Mental Health
Sermon on the Mount
Help for Depression
Bible Psalms, Psalms 103
Power of the Psalms
- Psalms 139