Key Points: An analysis of data from tens of thousands of people found that those who regularly attended religious services were, on average, less likely to become depressed, to smoke, or to drink heavily. Regular service attendance was also related to a lower likelihood of dying during a study’s follow-up period. People who frequently attend services may benefit from higher life satisfaction, purpose in life, and other indicators of flourishing. Religious and spiritual traditions have, for millennia, provided practices, rituals, and communities that help people come together to make sense of life, support one another, and seek the transcendent. Given the endurance and adaptability of these communities through history, we might anticipate that they have an important role to play in promoting human flourishing. In recent decades, a growing body of rigorous longitudinal research has emerged showing just such a role. Past research, meta-analyzing longitudinal studies, has suggested an effect of religious service attendance on both greater longevity and lower psychological distress . There is also some evidence for an effect on a number of other health and well-being outcomes. However, as noted in both our earlier short-form and long-form reviews of the religious service attendance literature, the existing longitudinal evidence… Read full this story
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