Advances in the conceptualization and measurement of religion and spirituality. Implications for physical and mental health research

Am Psychol. 2003 Jan;58(1):64-74. doi: 10.1037/0003-066x.58.1.64.


Empirical studies have identified significant links between religion and spirituality and health. The reasons for these associations, however, are unclear. Typically, religion and spirituality have been measured by global indices (e.g., frequency of church attendance, self-rated religiousness and spirituality) that do not specify how or why religion and spirituality affect health. The authors highlight recent advances in the delineation of religion and spirituality concepts and measures theoretically and functionally connected to health. They also point to areas for areas for growth in religion and spirituality conceptualization and measurement. Through measures of religion and spirituality more conceptually related to physical and mental health (e.g., closeness to God, religious orientation and motivation, religious support, religious struggle), psychologists are discovering more about the distinctive contributions of religiousness and spirituality to health and well-being.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Health Status*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health*
  • Motivation
  • Quality of Life
  • Religion and Medicine*
  • Research Design
  • Spirituality*
  • Truth Disclosure