Regularly attending religious services may significantly reduce the risk of death, according to a comprehensive study by researchers at Yeshiva University and its medical school, the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
Findings of the study were published in Psychology and Health, the official journal of the European Health Psychology Society.
In the study, researchers evaluated the religious practices of 92,395 post-menopausal women ages 50 to 79 from a wide variety of faiths participating in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), a national long-term study on women’s health issues.
The study subjects who said they attend religious services at least once a week showed a 20 percent decrease in the overall risk of mortality compared to those not attending services at all.
The YU/Einstein study adjusted for the social support many derive from participation in communal organizations and group activities linked to a church, a synagogue, temple, or mosque.
“What was fascinating was that even after controlling for those sorts of factors that lead to wellbeing, there was a significant reduction in mortality,” said co-lead researcher Dr. Eliezer Schnall, clinical assistant professor of psychology at Yeshiva University. It would be “worthwhile,” Schnall said, to study men and younger people to determine their risk of mortality.