There are numerous studies that have examined the link between being religious and physical, social and mental wellbeing .
Researchers Thompson and Vardaman found religious people were able to cope better with a death of a family member and were less likely to suffer from mental illness. Hermann and colleagues found religious individuals were better able to accept severe illnesses such as Parkinsons disease than non religious people.
Though there is research examining a link between being religious and health . There have been relatively few scientific studies that have examined why religious people are reportedly healthier and are better equipped to cope with stress and loss.
A recent study by Patric Steffen and Kevin Masters concluded that a compassionate attitude is a mediator between religiosity and health. Their research was centred on the observation that compassion is a trait nurtured and prophesised by all of the world’s major religions. Examinations of the relationships between measures of health which included levels of depressive symptoms and perceived stress, inherent religiosity, compassionate attitudes and behaviours were made.
Compassionate attitudes and behaviours were found to be a cause of the link between intrinsic religiosity and both depressive symptoms and perceived stress. This means the researchers reported that being compassionate was one of the reasons why the religious participants in the study had fewer symptoms of depression and were less likely to suffer from stress.
This research shouldn’t necessarily promote religion; instead highlight the impact of a compassionate attitude on health and wellbeing .