Prayer and Mortality

MAY 30, 2016

There was a significantly lower risk of all-cause, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality among women who frequently attended religious services, according to a study of 74,534 women in the Nurses’ Health Study who were free of cardiovascular disease and cancer at baseline. Data analysis was conducted from 1996 through June 2012. Researchers found:

• There were 13,537 deaths, including 2,721 owing to cardiovascular deaths and 4,479 owing to cancer deaths.

• Attending a religious service more than once per week was associated with 33% lower all-cause mortality compared with women who had never attended religious services (HR=0.67). The hazard ratio for cardiovascular mortality was 0.73 and for cancer mortality was 0.79, respectively.

• Depressive symptoms, smoking, social support, and optimism were potentially important mediators.

The authors concluded that religion and spirituality may be an underappreciated resource that physicians could explore with their patients, as appropriate.

Citation: Li S, Stampfer MJ, Williams DR, VanderWeele TJ. Association of religious service attendance with mortality among women. [Published online ahead of print May 16, 2016]. JAMA Intern Med. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.1615.