The Truth... What is it?

Faith allows enhancement of Health Status


[read links, studies summaries & sources, below]

[this web page is on the personal website of Ervin Shaw, M. D.]

On 31 August 2015, an article came out in a major Internal Medicine journal concerning a study of recorded discussions between doctors and surrogate decision makers, HERE. Also in 2015, a study suggests that ...whether Christian or not or even spiritual of not...a key element of the Christian faith, gratitude, has some medical evidence of healthy effect on a person's heart status, HERE. So, all that follows will emphasize even more the importance that faith is to so many people. The 23 Dec. 1998 issue of The State newspaper carried a front page article by Usha Lee McFarling of the "Washington Bureau" entitled "Scientists Seeing Faith in New Light...religious patients likely to be healthier and live longer, study finds."

They quote people like Dr. Dale Matthews, an internist at Georgetown University Medical Center and author of, "The Faith Factor..."; ignoring it is no longer acceptable; Dr. David Larson, a psychiatrist who left his post at the prestigious National Institutes of Health in 1993 so that he could devote full-time study to health and faith; and Dr. Harold Koenig of Duke University...a psychiatrist...who produced some early clinical studies (see his book, Medicine, Religion, and Health). It appears that, as of 1998, there have been some 300 studies of at least some aspect of this "faith factor". Also, I know of one academic effort (H. Jane Teas, Ph.D. @ our local USC in Columbia, S. C.) to investigate miracles which has resulted in the 2008 publication of Faith That Heals: Stories of God's Love, a publication of 45 amazing stories out of the 107 collected.

"Faith" wins out over all other factors, including such non-faith activities as meditation
(such as yoga).



Amazingly, that 1998 news writer...appearing to look in amazement at many possible explanations which fail to explain...fails to EVER mention God. She does seem to tie the word "faith" to "religion" and is relieved to note that it does not [yet] appear to make any difference what religion!

 I would remind that it takes huge faith in each of science, law, government, money, position, atheism, journalism, freedom, or self (that brain that you are so proud of) in order to feel safe enough to ignore or discount the reality of God...the one true God (and Father of Jesus the Christ of Nazareth)! It is clear, then, that this writer and the investigators have got it labeled wrongly [probably because it is political, scientific, and educational career suicide to label it correctly]. The more correct label is "The Faith in God Factor".

As the Rev. Dr. P. C. Linder recently (2006) noted, the 20th century saw a change in the debate pitted between scientific thought & theological thought. "However, as the century came to a close, we almost universally accepted the realization that to most fully understand the human condition, we need to hold science and faith in an active tension with one another." The act of science trying to measure the effects of "faith factors" scientifically is an invitation to misrepresentation because positive faith outcomes may be valued by believers entirely differently spiritually than by scientists scientifically.

Health Miracles & other Testimonies:



Using prisoner recidivism rates as an index of sociopathic healing, a premier criminology journal reported in 1997 that 41% of released prisoners not involved in Bible studies were re-arrested within one year; but only 14% of the ones doing Bible study were re-arrested within one year. You can further check out the impact of faith on prisoners at Prison Fellowship Ministries.


Using what I believe to be very light-weight definitions of "Christians", the major USA polling services, George Gallup and George Barna, are often credited as discovering that there is no significant difference between Christians and non-Christians in the divorce rate. And, these warnings are broadcast by our own believers; but consider the difference "intensity of commitment" might make. Using "marital divorce" as at least an emotional health example, the late newspaper columnist, George W. Crane, M.D. PhD. has calculated that when married couples are active TOGETHER in the church, they are 50 times less likely to divorce. When the couple and family commitment to a regular and daily worship is heavy enough to require a "family altar" in the home, they are 500 times less likely to divorce [John W. White, "What Does It Mean To Be Born Again?"]. I wonder what daily family devotionals and shared "quiet time" might add to committed corporate worship and Christian involvement? How valuable is your marriage and the preservation of your family to you?? Is it worth investigating Jesus?


(from Nov.-Dec. /99 issue of "Physician" Focus on the Family)

  • Sick hearts surviving surgery: 232 older patients at Dartmouth Medical school...those finding strength and comfort in their religious faith were 14 times less likely to die following heart surgery. (reference: 1995, Psychosomatic Medicine 57 (1):5-15).
  • Heart transplant recovery: a study at the University of Pittsburgh found that patients with strong religious beliefs and religious participation showed much better physical functioning and better life quality at one year after surgery. (reference: 1995, Journal of Religion and Health 34 (1):17-32).
  • High Blood Pressure Prevention: A study of nearly 4000 persons 65 or older showed that those attending religious services at least once per week and doing prayer or Bible study at least daily had a 40% decreased risk of diastolic hypertension. The impact was best in blacks rather than whites and in those less than 76 years old. (reference: International 1998, Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 28 (2): 189-213).
  • Improving Immune System Functioning: A study of 1700 older North Carolina adults by Duke University found that those who attended church were 50% less likely to have blood elevations of IL-6 (a blood protein which indicates an impaired immune system when elevated). (reference: 1997, International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine 27 (3): 233-250).
  • Coping With Cancer: A University of Michigan study of 108 women with gynecological cancer found: 93% said that their faith helped them to cope, 75% said that religion occupied a significant place in their lives, 49% felt that they had become more religious following the onset of cancer, 96% wanted "straight talk" from their doctor about their cancer and about their chief worry of managing pain. For the first time in a major OB-GYN journal, the authors recommended that doctors be supportive of patients in their religious coping. (reference: 1997, American Journal of Ob. and Gynec. 176 (1): 166-172)
  • Getting Over Depression: A Duke University year-long study of 87 depressed older adults found that for every 10-point increase in an "intrinsic religiosity" score, there was a 70% increase in speed of remission of depression. (reference: 1998, American Journal of Psychiatry 155 (4): 536-542).
  • Reduced Length of an Hospitalization: A Duke University study of 542 patients over age 60 found that patients with no religious affiliation spent an average of 25 days hospitalization compared to 11 days for those with a religious affiliation...and the religious group was 43% less likely to have been hospitalized in the previous year. (reference: 1998, Southern Medical Journal 91(10): 925-932).
  • Reduced Death Rate: Controlling for other important factors, a 28-year study of 5286 people in Alameda County, California, found that those attending religious services one or more times per week were 25% less likely to die than infrequent or non-attendees. (reference: 1997, American Journal of Public Health 87 (6): 957-961).
  • Predicting Longer Lives: Even after controlling for six classes of potential confounding variables, a 5-year study of 2025 residents of Marin County, California, weekly-religious-service attendees had the lowest mortality rate and non-attendees the highest. (reference: 1998, American Journal of Public Health 88 (10): 1469-1475).
  • The Live-longer Factor: Controlling for other important factors, a 9-year study of 21,000 U. S. adults searched for which factor was most important as a longer-life factor. For the overall population, those who attend religious services more than once per week have a 7-year survival advantage over those who don't attend; black attendees have a 14-year advantage over blacks who don't! (reference: 1999, Demography 36 (2): 1-13).



Other Sources:

  • Breast cancer: Northside Baptist's own Judy C. Kneece reported her findings at the Spring 2000 meeting of the National Consortium of Breast Centers in Orlando, Florida. In beginning to touch on the power of spiritual matters, spiritual faith was second only to the importance of family as the prime source of support, outranking medical care and information sources. I wonder what a study would reveal about prayer and prayer-chains power.
  • "Parade Magazine" newspaper insert for 23 March 2003

    > Geisinger Med. Ctr., Danville, Pa. study through 2008 of outcomes of heart-attack patients who were prayed for vs. those without much/any prayer

     Johns Hopkins study (Dr. Diane Becker) of breast cancer patients who say a meditative prayer each day

    > Duke U.: a 6-year study of 4000 patients over age 64...3 reports
            - relative risk of dying is 46% lower for frequent attendees of religious services

            - significantly lower blood pressure among those who pray regularly
            - healthier immune systems in those frequent attendees of religious services

     > Dartmouth Med. Ctr.: study shows that one of best predictors of survival among 232 heart surgery patients was the degree to which they drew comfort & strength from religious faith & prayer

    > U. of Miami study of AIDS patients: long-term survivors more likely involved in religion or volunteer work

    > the MANTRA project (Dr. Krucoff) to report on 750 patients with life-threatening heart problems whose stories were randomly given to 4 different religious-type groups for prayer or distant healings****(results pending as of 30 March 2003)
  • the books, Healing Words...and...Prayer Is Good Medicine, by former internist, Larry Dossey, M. D.
    Check out an outline of the stages of faith in God.

Pleasant Valley Church in Georgia operates a widely know deliverance ministry which has cured many persons from demonically controlled illnesses...I know because my close friend, D. O., was on staff there from about mid-2004 to 2008.

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(posted 1/99; latest update 10 April 2006; latest addition 25 November 2015)