Religiosity and Health: A Holistic Biopsychosocial Perspective

J Holist Nurs. 2020 Mar;38(1):89-101. doi: 10.1177/0898010118783502. Epub 2018 Jun 29.


The resurgence of interest in the influence of religion and spirituality on health is examined within the context of the holistic paradigm and historical connection between nursing and spirituality. While nursing and spirituality often intersect with end-of-life considerations, this article presents findings from studies that demonstrate that religious involvement favors health and longevity across the life course. Examples include protective associations with stress, depression, self-rated health, and infant birth weight. Theoretical and empirical explanations for this relationship are offered, such as social and psychological resources and healthy behaviors. The effects of religion on biological functioning, including allostatic load and telomere length, are also discussed, although this area is understudied. Considerations for the "dark-side" of religious involvement are also offered. Suggestions for nurses wishing to protect and promote the health of their patients using a holistic approach include expanding knowledge of research on religion and health and advocating for patients' spiritual needs by conducting a comprehensive spiritual assessment in primary, secondary, and tertiary clinical settings.

Keywords: biopsychosocial; disease prevention; health promotion; integrative/holistic theories; religiosity; spirituality.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Models, Biopsychosocial*
  • Nursing / trends*
  • Religion and Medicine*