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Religion and Health-Related Behaviours Continued…
Religion and Health Behaviours • Smoking – Effects on behaviours based on religious affiliation • Study of undergraduate students in Nigeria—no appreciable difference in cigarette smoking or cannabis use between Muslims and Christians • Study of African-American women, aged 18 -44 in Norfolk, Virginia – Pentecostals 16. 7% (have quit smoking 60%) – Baptists 40. 4% (have quit smoking 22%) – Using logistical regression, non-Pentecostals were 3. 64 times more likely to be current smokers and only. 12 times as likely to have quite
Religion and Health Behaviours • Smoking – Effects on behaviours based on religious affiliation • Study in Western Scotland, random sample of 35 year olds Men Protesta Catholic Nonnt Relig 24% 40% 37% Women 36% 49% 55% • Differences disappeared, however, when “class effects” were controlled (i. e. , smoking patterns follow particular class patterns that match religious affiliation patterns)
Religion and Health Behaviours • In terms of religious affiliation, we can probably conclude… – Unless a religious group has a smoking taboo built directly into their religious beliefs, there is little appreciable difference in which religious group one belongs to in terms of smoking patterns – Hence, only groups like Pentecostals, Mormons, Seventh-Day Adventists groups which have smoking taboos will have lower smoking levels
Religion and Health Behaviours • In terms of religious attendance and personal religiousness, some other more widespread results emerge… – E. g. , in the study of Christian vs. Muslim Nigerian undergrad students where there was no difference in tobacco and cannabis use, those who were “very religious” (regardless of religious affiliation), were less likely than those who were “not religious” to smoke cigarettes (30% vs. 72% over a lifetime; 4% vs. 36% currently) or use cannabis (6% vs. 25% lifetime).
Religion and Health Behaviours • Study of persons age 65+ in North Carolina in 1986, 1989, 1992: – In 1986: 8% once a week church attenders vs. 25% never church attenders smoked. – Frequency of church attendance also correlated with number of cigarettes smoked – Some other results were mixed (e. g. , some patterns in 1986 were not repeated in ’ 89 and ’ 92) – Curiously, private religious activities showed up as a predictor of lower smoking rates in ’ 89 and ’ 92 but not in ’ 86; however, private religious activities (prayer and/or personal Bible study) in smokers in ’ 86 was a predictor or quitting by ’ 89 and ’ 92.
Religion and Health Behaviours • Study of persons age 65+ in North Carolina in 1986, 1989, 1992: – After controlling for covariates, persons who both attended religious services at least once a week and prayed or studied the Bible daily were 90% more likely not to be current smokers. Percentage of Current Smokers in terms of Church Attendance (High = once a week or more / Low = less than once a week) and Prayer/Bible Study (High = once a day / Low = less than once a day) While actual church attendance and daily prayer and/or Bible study appear as deterrents to smoking, religious radio listening and tv habits show no effect.
Religion and Health Behaviours • Adolescents or College Age Smoking and Personal Religiousness – 1982 Study of 4853 people age 12 -85 in Milwaukee with a median age of 21. 7 years which measured self-declared personal religiousness. There was a significant difference in marijuana, hashish and rates of cigarette smoking between the groups which said they were “very religious” vs. the “not at all religious” group. – 1986 study of grade 7 -9 students in Los Angeles showed a correlation between low religiosity and the use of cigarettes, alcohol, cannabis, hard drugs, and nonprescription medications. – 1991 study of Northern Illinois Univ. students, measured religiosity by religious service attendance and self-declared religiosity—cigarette smoking was significantly lower among the high religious group.
Religion and Health Behaviours • Smoking and Personal Religiousness – 1997 study of cigarette smoking and religiousness among 849 female same-sex twins and 204 single member of twin pairs from Virginia Twins Registry. – Daily cigarette intake was assessed as was personal religious devotion (importance of religious beliefs, seeking religious/spiritual comfort, and frequency of private prayer); religious conservatism (belief in God rewarding and punishing, literal belief in Bible), and institutional conservatism (judged by conservatism of declared religious affiliation) – All three religious measures were inversely related to current cigarette smoking – Personal religious devotion also inversely related to lifetime nicotine dependence and religious conservatism, although to a lesser degree.
Religion and Health Behaviours • General Conclusion on Smoking and Religion – Overall, there is perhaps less correlation between religious affiliation and observance and smoking than one might first guess – However, given that smoking in adolescence or college years is the strongest indicator of later and life -long smoking, any effects here are significant – In studies of personal religiousness and religious practices, there is a significant statistical differences in cigarette smoking between more versus less religious students. And, also significant, some studies show religious observance is has the strongest influence on never having started vs. quitting.
Religion and Health Behaviours • Religion and Sexual Behaviour – One would assume that given many religions’ teaching on sexuality, adherence to these religions ought to generate some difference in sexual behaviour • E. g. , Catholic and Conservative Protestant proscription on sexual intercourse outside the context of life-long monogamous marriage (Mainline Protestant is less proscriptive typically on pre-marital sex) – However, actual sexual practice and attitudes toward particular sexual practices are influence by many and complex factors
Religion and Health Behaviours • Adolescents and College Age sexually permissive attitudes – 1983 study French adolescents on attitudes toward abortion, homosexuality, masturbation, and premarital sex—practicing Catholic students (vs. nonpracticing Catholic, Jewish, other, and no religion) were associated with conservative attitudes toward all four topics. – 1985 study of African American adolescent females aged 15 -19 attitude toward premarital sex. Religious commitment was measured by church attendance. High religious attendance was related to low sexual permissiveness, independent of the permissiveness of close friends and income.
Religion and Health Behaviours • Adolescents and College Age sexually permissive attitudes – Several studies of college age students have shown that most forms of religious indicators will show up in attitudes towards premarital sexual permissiveness • Higher levels of religious beliefs, religious commitment, attendance, self-rated religiosity, religious knowledge, etc. , appears in every case to generate a lower level of permissiveness toward premarital sex.
Religion and Health Behaviours • Adult sexually permissive attitudes – Largest study of relationship between religiousness and attitudes toward premarital sex in 1991 (14, 979 English speaking Americans 18+) – Survey assessed religious attendance, strength of religious identification, belief in an afterlife, membership in a religious organization, and religious affiliation – Religious affiliation were categorized as: • Highly Proscriptive (Protestant Fundamentalists/Baptists) • Moderately Proscriptive (Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic) • Least Proscriptive (Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Jews) – Three questions on premarital sex with possible answers being “always wrong”, “almost always wrong”, “wrong only sometimes”, or “not wrong at all”
Religion and Health Behaviours • Adult sexually permissive attitudes – Religious affiliation and pre-marital sex • “Always wrong”— 13% least proscriptive; 25% moderately proscriptive; 44% highly proscriptive – Other religious indicators (church attendance, strength of religious beliefs, belief in afterlife, church membership) likewise all carried significant indicators of attitudes toward pre-marital sex – Effects were most dramatically different by denomination, e. g. , very strong among Baptists and Conservative (nonmainline) Protestants and most weak among Jews and no religious affiliation.
Religion and Health Behaviours • But what of actual sexual behaviour? – In adolescents and teenagers… • 1987 study of 18 yr. olds in Detroit – Higher rates of religious attendance correlated to lower levels of participation in premarital sex – However…attendance was also inversely related to contraceptive usage – Thus, frequent church attenders were less likely to engage in premarital sex, but if they did become sexually active, they were less likely to use contraceptives
Religion and Health Behaviours • But what of actual sexual behaviour? – In adolescents and teenagers… • 1990 survey of 119 high school students (gr. 9 & 12) in a Catholic high school vs. 92 students (gr. 9 & 12) in a public high school in Pennsylvania • Sexual Knowledge Inventory Scores – Higher in Catholic for Gr 12 – Identical in Gr 9 • Ever having engaged in sexual intercourse – 24% Catholic; 48% Public • Presently sexually active – Gr 9; 10% Catholic; 29% Public – Gr 12; 33% Catholic; 73% Public
Religion and Health Behaviours • But what of actual sexual behaviour? – In adolescents and teenagers… • 1990 survey of 119 high school students (gr. 9 & 12) in a Catholic high school vs. 92 students (gr. 9 & 12) in a public high school in Pennsylvania – When asked how large a role religious beliefs played in their sexual intercourse decisions… » Catholic: 15% “None”; 20% “Large Role” » Public: 19% “None”; 23% “Large Role” – Students frequently do not see religious beliefs as affecting their sexual decisions but the statistics seem to indicate otherwise.
Religion and Health Behaviours • But what of actual sexual behaviour? – In College Students/Young Adults • 1979 study of Houston University Students measured sexual attitudes, sexual behaviour, and sexual guilt—authors concluded that religious factors predict sexual guilt which in turn shapes sexual attitudes and behaviour. Their conclusion is that “religion is the single best predictor of sexual attitudes and sexual behaviour, especially premarital intercourse. ” • 1980 study of intro sociology students at Western Washington University measured intensity of religious beliefs and 20 sexual behaviours – Among men 13 of 20 sexual behaviours and among women 7 of 20 sexual behaviours were correlated to religion – Religiousness was inversely related to: » Number of sexual partners, frequency of light and heavy petting, extensiveness of sexual experiences, thinking about sex, sexual enjoyment, ideal frequency of sex per moth (all for both men and women) » Sexual enjoyment, sexual responsiveness (for men only) – Conclusion: religiosity is negatively correlated with premarital sexual intercourse and factors leading up to it.
Religion and Health Behaviours • But what of actual sexual behaviour? – In College Age • 1990 Survey of men and women age 17 -25 in “family relations” class at Cameron University – Belief about and frequency of sexual intercourse assessed, along with frequency of religious attendance – Students who attended religious services weekly had nonpermissive attitudes toward pre-marital sex and the lowest mean frequency of premarital sexual intercourse – However, those who attended services week and had permissive attitudes toward premarital sex had higher rates of intercourse – Authors concluded that religious belief had to be accepted and internalized before it could affect premarital sexual activity, church attendance itself was not enough
Religion and Health Behaviours • But what of actual sexual behaviour? – In College Age • 1995 Survey of 1817 black South African Students at the University of Western Cape – Attempted to measure religiousness (by 8 items; four quartiles) and openness of communication with parents about contraception, attitudes toward homosexuality, AIDS and sexual and contraceptive behaviour – Religiosity was not correlated with negative attitudes towards AIDS or contraception – Highly religious students experienced sexual intercourse at an older age (17. 5 yrs. vs. 15. 9 yrs for low religious); had fewer sexual partners, were more likely to remain sexual abstinent in first year of college…BUT…were less likely to use safe sex practices and less likely to use contraceptives.
Religion and Health Behaviours • But what of actual sexual behaviour? – In College Age • Other studies have demonstrated the complexity of factors that influence sexual attitudes and behaviours – E. g. , 1984 study of 264 males, 255 female undergrads in large mid-Atlantic university. – It measured a number of items alongside religiosity including peer approval and peer behaviour – Religiosity generated only a very weak influence on the practice of sexual intercourse itself and most of these effects could arguably be mediated through the effects of peer approval and behaviour • Overall, the research literature suggests religious beliefs and practices do play a role both in attitudes and behaviours regarding premarital sex.
Religion and Health Behaviours • But what of actual sexual behaviour? – Extramarital Affairs • 1974 Study on the sexual behaviour of 2374 married women in USA (average 34. 9); and 1442 married women in Australia (average 35. 3) who were asked if they attended religious services – Extramarital sex was less common among religious attenders (19% vs 33% in US; 23% vs. 41% in Australia) – Asked if they would engage in future premarital sex (62% of church attenders say “never happen” vs. 34% non church attenders in USA; 56% vs. 26% in Australia) – Conclusion of author: religious women are less likely to have extramarital affairs and less likely to expect to have them in the future.
Religion and Health Behaviours • But what of actual sexual behaviour? – Extramarital Affairs • Remember 1991 Study of 14, 979 English speaking age 18+ in USA? – Survey assessed religious attendance, strength of religious identification, belief in an afterlife, membership in a religious organization, and religious affiliation – Religious affiliation were categorized as: » Highly Proscriptive (Protestant Fundamentalists/Baptists) » Moderately Proscriptive (Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic) » Least Proscriptive (Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Jews)
Religion and Health Behaviours • But what of actual sexual behaviour? – Extramarital Affairs • Remember 1991 Study of 14, 979 English speaking age 18+ in USA? – “Extramarital Sex is always wrong”— 50% of least proscriptive group; 72% of moderately proscriptive group; 81% of the highly proscriptive group – Church attendance, strength of religious beliefs, belief in afterlife, and church membership were all inversely related to permissive attitudes toward extramarital sex (church membership made no difference) – As before, religious denomination was a strong factor with Baptist and Conservative (nonmainline) Protestant being strongest; Jews and no religious affiliation the weakest.
Religion and Health Behaviours • But what of actual sexual behaviour? – Number of Sexual Partners • As one might expect at this point, given the impact of religious beliefs and practices on the age sexual activity begins and one’s attitudes toward extramarital sexuality, it is not surprising that studies also tend to confirm that higher levels of religiosity also lead to lower numbers of sexual partners.
Religion and Health Behaviours • Other Health Behaviours – Safe Driving and Use of Seat Belts – Risk-Taking Behaviours – Regular Sleep Patterns Minimal studies in this area—among young people there was a 1998 study of 5000 American high school students that did suggest that religiosity played a positive role in areas like carrying a weapon to school, interpersonal violence, drinking and driving, smoking, binge drinking, and marijuana use as well as healthy diet, regular exercise and better sleep patterns.
Religion and Health Behaviours What can we conclude… Probably depends in part on your attitude to religiosity in general Scientifically, we might wish to argue that if religiosity has a positive impact on overall health outcomes, this may in part be attributable to the effect of religious beliefs and practices on certain health related behaviours.