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Spiritual Wellness: A Comparison of Models and Consideration of Applications in College Health. Paul Myers, Ph.D. University of Portland Spirituality, Religion and Student Health Coalition of ACHA. Objectives. Identify and describe models of spiritual health UCLA HERI prevalence data
Paul Myers, Ph.D.
University of Portland
Spirituality, Religion and Student Health Coalition of ACHA
What is Health?
“health is a complete [whole] state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
Promotion of health in mind, body and spirit.
But what do we mean by health of the spirit?
What does spirit contribute to overall health?
A religious view in contrast to a health promotion view: Spiritual Health is the wholeness and completeness of one’s relationship with the divine, and the divine’s creation.
What is spiritual?
(From: Handbook of Religion and Health, p. 18)
From Koenig, McCullough, & Larson (2001)
Religious well being
Religious consequencesKoenig, McCullough and Larson’s (2001) 12 Measurement Approaches to Religiosity
Five categories of spirituality
Social and Emotional Support
Negative Correlations between Church Attendance and substance use, sexual behavior, tobacco use.
World Health Organization Study of Adolescents and Religion found participation in religious community decreased substance use, increased school success and delayed sexual activity
Physiological mechanisms involved in religiosity/spirituality & health
Religious meditation/prayer →
↑ blood flow in frontal cortices (focused attention)
↓ blood flow in the parietal cortices (reports of “oneness” with the transcendent)
↑ levels of GABA, melatonin, serotonin, ↑ left hemisphere activity (positive affect, elevated immune responses, antibody titers, natural killer cell activity)
Possible regulation of autonomic nervous functions→↑ability to cope with stress
43% prayed for their own health
24% had prayer from others for one’s own health
9% participate in prayer group for one’s own health
7% Meditate for health
Poloma, MM & Pendleton, BF (1991). The effects of prayer and prayer experiences on measures of
general well-being. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 19, 71-93.
(cited in Plante and Thoresen 2007)
Effects of religiosity on sexual minority youth and substance use
Demographics comparable to NCHA
HLM analyses showed significantly lower rates for life time and past 12 month rates of serious suicidal ideation among those religiously affiliated.
Koenig, H., McCullough, D. & Larson, D. (2001). Handbook of Religion and Health.
Marty, M.E. & Vaux, K.L. (Eds.) (1982). Health/Medicine and the Faith Traditions: An Inquiry Into Religion and Medicine. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
Mauk, K.L. & Schmidt, N.K. (Eds.) (2004). Spiritual Care in Nursing Practice. New York: Lippencott Williams & Wilkins
Neihardt, J.G. (1932/1959). Black Elk Speaks. New York: Washington Square Press.
O’Brien, M.E. (2008). Spirituality in Nursing: Standing on Holy Ground, 3rd Edition. Boston: Jones & Bartlett.
Plante, T.G. &, C.E. (2007) Spirit, Science and Health: How the spiritual mind fuels physical wellness. Westport, CT: Praeger.