UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa., Sept. 28 (UPI) — Forty percent of members of strict religious groups say they are healthy, but that drops to 20 percent if they leave the religion, U.S. researchers suggest.
Christopher Scheitle, senior research assistant at Pennsylvania State University, says, in addition, 25 percent of members in strict religious groups who switched to another religion reported they were in excellent health.
The study also indicates people who were raised and remained in strict religious groups were more likely to report they were in better health than people affiliated with other religious groups. Scheitle, working with Amy Adamczyk, assistant professor of sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and City University of New York, defined strict religions, such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Jehovah’s Witnesses — both with strict social, moral and physical guidelines for members that include abstaining from unhealthy behaviors such as alcohol and tobacco use.
These religions also create both formal and informal social support structures. These social bonds may be another factor for better health, the researchers say,
“The social solidarity and social support could have psychological benefits,” Scheitle said in a statement. “That could then lead to certain health benefits.”
Therefore, exiting the religious group may be stressful because people lose their social support network, the study says.
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