Modern epidemiological studies of religion and all-cause or cause-specific mortality are reviewed to better understand the patterns of association and potential mechanisms by which religion could affect health and survival. Two distinct groups of studies are found: those that compare rates for mortality of a homogeneous religious affiliation group with that of a standard regional, state, or national population (group-level data), and those that assess individual risk related to religious attendance in observational cohort studies (individual-level data). The associations of religion with reductions in all-cause mortality are stronger in the group-level data than in the individual-level data, primarily because individual-level data permit the inclusion of intervening or mediating variables such as smoking and diet. This chapter discusses the importance of the regulating, behavior-constraining effect of religious affiliation, with particular attention to gender differences in religion and health.
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