Navigation Links
Friends May Be Key to Churchgoers' Happiness
Date:12/7/2010

By Ellin Holohan
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Regular churchgoers may lead more satisfying lives than stay-at-home folks because they create a network of close friends who provide important support, a new study suggests.

Conducted at the University of Wisconsin, the researchers found that 28 percent of people who attend church weekly say they are "extremely satisfied" with life as opposed to only 20 percent who never attend services. But the satisfaction comes from participating in a religious congregation along with close friends, rather than a spiritual experience, the study found.

Regular churchgoers who have no close friends in their congregations are no more likely to be very satisfied with their lives than those who never attend church, according to the research.

Study co-author Chaeyoon Lim said it's long been recognized that churchgoers report more satisfaction with their lives. But, "scholars have been debating the reason," he said.

"Do happier people go to church? Or does going to church make people happier?" asked Lim, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

This study, published in the December issue of the American Sociological Review, appears to show that going to church makes people more satisfied with life because of the close friendships established there.

Feeling close to God, prayer, reading scripture and other religious rituals were not associated with a prediction of greater satisfaction with life. Instead, in combination with a strong religious identity, the more friends at church that participants reported, the greater the likelihood they felt strong satisfaction with life.

The study is based on a phone survey of more than 3,000 Americans in 2006, and a follow-up survey with 1,915 respondents in 2007. Most of those surveyed were mainline Protestants, Catholics and Evangelicals, but a small number of Jews, Muslims and other non-traditional Christian churches was also included.

"Even in that short time, we observed that people who were not going to church but then started to go more often reported an improvement in how they felt about life satisfaction," said Lim.

He said that people have a deep need for belonging to something "greater than themselves." The experience of sharing rituals and activities with close friends in a congregation makes this "become real, as opposed to something more abstract and remote," he added.

In addition to church attendance, respondents were asked how many close friends they had in and outside of their congregations, and questions about their health, education, income, work and whether their religious identity was very important to their "sense of self."

Respondents who said they experienced "God's presence" were no more likely to report feeling greater satisfaction with their lives than those who did not. Only the number of close friends in their congregations and having a strong religious identity predicted feeling extremely satisfied with life.

One reason may be that "friends who attend religious services together give religious identity a sense of reality," the authors said.

The study drew a skeptical response from one expert.

"Some of their conclusions are a little shaky," said Dr. Harold G. Koenig, director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C.

The study showed that religious identity is just as important as how many friends a person has in their congregation, said Koenig, also a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the university.

The way the data was analyzed ensured that the spiritual factors (prayer, feeling God's love, etc.) would not be significant because people with a strong religious identity were controlled for, or not included in the analysis, according to Koenig.

"Religious identity is what is driving all these other factors," said Koenig. Social involvement is important, "but so is faith."

Lim said the data show that only the number of close friends at church correlates with higher satisfaction with life. The study acknowledged the importance of religious identity, as well as number of friends, suggesting that the two factors reinforce each other.

"Social networks forged in congregations and strong religious identities are the key variables that mediate the positive connection between religion and life satisfaction," the study concluded.

Lim said he wanted to examine whether social networks in organizations such as Rotary Clubs, the Masons or other civic volunteer groups could have a similar impact, but it might be difficult.

"It's hard to imagine any other organization that engages as many people as religion, and that has similar shared identity and social activities," said Lim. "It's not easy to think of anything that's equivalent to that."

More information

The Nemours Foundation has information on spirituality and health.

SOURCES: Chaeyoon Lim, Ph.D., assistant professor, department of sociology, University of Wisconsin, Madison; Harold G. Koenig, M.D., professor, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, associate professor, medicine, and director, Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, N.C.; December 2010 American Sociological Review


'/>"/>
Copyright©2010 ScoutNews,LLC.
All rights reserved  

Related medicine news :

1. Teens Poor Health Linked to Fewer Friends
2. Dolphins Get By With a Little Help From Their (Female) Friends
3. Friends, family detect early Alzheimers signs better than traditional tests
4. Friendships, family relationships get better with age thanks to forgiveness, stereotypes
5. TakeThemAMeal.com Surpasses 100,000 Meal Milestone; Web Site Makes Caring For Friends and Family Easier
6. New "howsthepatient" iPhone App Provides a Simple, Seamless Way to Send Health Updates to Friends and Family
7. Friendship and confiding in spouse eases stress over sexual issues in older men
8. As Mother's Day Nears, Families Mourning Child's Death Plan for Compassionate Friends National Conference and Walk to Remember
9. Friends, Not Grandkids, Key to Happy Retirement
10. FriendsofWater.com Responds to the National Acadamy of Sciences Report that Millions of Americans Get Sick Yearly from Contaminated Water
11. Oxycontin Abusers Often Rely on Leftover Meds From Friends
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
Friends May Be Key to Churchgoers' Happiness
(Date:12/7/2016)... , ... December 07, 2016 , ... ... 2016 BOC Business Brilliance Awards under the Best New Product Launch category. Gensuite’s ... achieved through user experience. , BOC Global Events & Training Group is a ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... ... “The Road To Restoration”: an informative and enlightening book for those who ... of hands. “The Road To Restoration” is the creation of published author, Thomas Fitzhugh ... ring that you could reach out for, and grab, on the old carousels. ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... 2016 , ... “Fred Rides a Train” allows readers to tag along on ... Rides a Train” is the creation of published author, Janet Morrison, who has been ... Michigan. The "Fred, the Dog" series is her first attempt at writing for children. ...
(Date:12/7/2016)... ... December 07, 2016 , ... Dr. Greg ... the International Probiotic Association’s Washington DC workshop on November 2nd. The conference was ... dialog regarding probiotic dietary supplement regulations. , Dr. Leyer spoke about two ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... ... 06, 2016 , ... People with Parkinson’s disease and cognitive ... type of MRI, according to a study appearing online in the journal Radiology. ... characterized by tremors or trembling and stiffness in the limbs, impaired balance and ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:12/6/2016)...  Alopexx Oncology, LLC announced data from a Phase ... (immunocytokine) composed of interleukin-2 and a CD20-targeting monoclonal antibody. ... cells as Rituxan and maintains the activities of both ... in tumor targeting, engagement of the immune system, and ... the study (abstract #95954) were presented at the 58 ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... -- Radioisotopes are radioactive isotopes having an unstable balance ... nuclear research reactor or by using cyclotron. These isotopes ... gamma when changed to a stable nature. The gamma ... in medical diagnostics. In this field, the radiation is ... functioning. Radiotherapy is also used to treat some life-threatening ...
(Date:12/6/2016)... Homozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia (HoFH) - ... Global Markets Direct,s latest Pharmaceutical and Healthcare ... – Pipeline Review, H2 2016, provides an ... (Metabolic Disorders) pipeline landscape. Homozygous familial ... caused due to mutation from both parents. ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: