If you plan to stay healthy and live longer, keep the faith

Published 12:45 am Saturday, September 9, 2006

Why would such prestigious medical schools as Harvard, John’s Hopkins, Georgetown, Brown, Emory, George Washington and Vanderbilt add such courses as “Spirituality” to their curricula? Because current research shows that a large majority of patients list faith in God as an important factor in getting well. Actually, 44 percent name faith in God as the most important factor in getting well. As a result, most of the medical schools in the nation teach their students to support a patient’s religious faith.

In Physicians magazine awhile back, Susan Larson reported that the top ten research studies of the late 1990’s clearly showed the patients were right.

Dartmouth Medical School found that elderly patients were 14 times less likely to die after heart surgery if they found strength in their religious faith.

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The University of Pittsburgh found that patients with strong religious beliefs who participated in religious activities showed “greater physical functioning” at the 12 month check-up after heart transplant surgery.

According to the “International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine” high blood pressure ranked 40% lower among people who attended religious services at least once a week and prayed or studied the Bible daily. This study was based on nearly 4,000 people 65 years old or older.

A study of 1,700 older adults by Duke University showed that persons who attended church were only half a likely to have elevated levels of blood protein that interferes with the body’s immune system. Older adults who did not attend church contracted more diseases, experienced more depression, and suffered more unhappy life events.

A University of Michigan research team found that faith in God helped 108 women cope with gynecological cancer. 93% said their faith sustained their hope, 75% said their faith had a significant place in their lives and 40% said their faith strengthened their self-esteem. Not one patient reported being less religious and about half became more religious during their treatment.

“The American Journal of Public Health” conducted a 28 year study which showed that faith in God delays death. People who attended a religious service weekly or more were 25% less likely to die than those who did not attend regularly.

That attending religious services is the most important factor in prolonging life was also shown by a study of 21,000 senior citizens in Marin County, California. According to the researchers a person gains from seven to fourteen years of life by going to church.

Duke University discovered that older patients with religious faith and practice cut their hospital stay in half. Those with no religious affiliation spent an average of 25 days in the hospital compared to only 11 days for those who belonged to a religious denomination.

In his book, “Something Else To Smile About”, Zig Zigler promotes the right way to cut health costs. “Hospitals can save big bucks by putting chaplains on their health care teams”,he wrote. “Hospitals are beginning to recognize that spiritual well-being can be crucial to the healing process.people are whole. You can’t treat the body without there being a spiritual or emotional impact.” He cites a study that involved some of the most costly and complicated procedures such as bypass surgery, valve replacements, and open-heart surgery. The study compared one group of patients had daily visits from a chaplain to a second group which received only an average of three minutes during their entire hospital stay. The result was that “patients who had the most contact with the chaplains were released from the hospital an average of two days sooner than those who did not receive regular visits.”

The director of the study, Dr. Elizabeth McSherry, Deputy Director of a program for Veterans Administration, estimated that the cost of the Chaplain’s visits was around $100 per patient. The savings from letting a patient go home two days early would amount to approximately $4000 a day or a total of $8000 for the two days. Just as importantly, patients who were seen daily by the chaplains had better results with fewer complications from their surgery.

The movement to encourage faith as foundation of healthcare has developed because the real healer is God. He honors those who respect this truth. “.prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well.” James 5:15 New Living Translation.