1. This study found that counties with lower mortality were associated with higher proportions of religion adherents and a greater diversity of adherents and congregations.
2. When controlling for demographic and health factors, religion had less added value; however, the direction of association between religion and mortality remained consistent.
Evidence Rating Level: 3 (Good)
There is considerable evidence that demonstrate the benefit of religion on health on an individual-level. However, the evidence is lacking on a population level and its role as a determinant of population health. As a result, the present study sought to determine the direction and strength of association between religion and mortality when controlling for county demographics in the United States and health factors.
Using data from the 2010 United States Religion Census and from the PHI County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 3141 counties within the United States were included. From these databases, data pertaining to religion, mortality, demographic, and health factors were included. Religion was measured in terms of adherence, congregation density, and the diversity of adherents and congregation by denominations. Mortality was estimated for each county as the average numerator divided by the average denominator per 100,000 populations. The meta-regression analyses were analyzed as random effects models using the Knapp-Hartung variance estimator.
Results demonstrated that counties with lower mortality were associated with higher proportions of religion adherents and a greater diversity of adherents and congregations. Furthermore, when controlling for demographic and health factors, religion had less added value; however, the direction of association between religion and mortality remained consistent. This study was limited by the fact that mortality is a single measure of population health; therefore, it is difficult for the results of this study to be generalized to other population health measures. Nonetheless, the results of this study suggest that religion merits further consideration as an important population health determinant.
©2022 2 Minute Medicine, Inc. All rights reserved. No works may be reproduced without expressed written consent from 2 Minute Medicine, Inc. Inquire about licensing here. No article should be construed as medical advice and is not intended as such by the authors or by 2 Minute Medicine, Inc.