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From The CriticsReviewer: Patricia E. Murphy, PhD (Rush University Medical Center)
Description: This book handles well the daunting task of providing a comprehensive and critical review of the research conducted between 1900 and 2000 that measures the relationship between religion and various mental and physical health outcomes.
Purpose: The purpose is to lay a foundation for the growing focus on medicine that takes into account mind/body/spirit. The critique of research methods and instruments used in the past is a much needed contribution to this area in which there are both excellent and very inadequate studies. The authors' review provides a scientific foundation for understanding how religion might impact health.
Audience: Written for medical researchers, health professionals, and religious professionals, the writing style and organization lends itself well to be used as a handbook to focus on topics of particular interest. The authors are both experts in the field of health and research in the area of religion and health.
Features: The book includes a chart of all the research in the field, organized by health outcome, that includes information about the design of the study and the measures and statistical analyses used along with a score for the quality of the study. It also provides a review of some of the religion/spirituality instruments most frequently used in research.
Assessment: This is an excellent book that can give those who are interested a solid basis for assessing the merit of inclusion of a focus on spirit in the practice of medicine. It provides the researcher a direction that might help avoid pitfalls of the past. The writing is interesting and inviting so that the lay person could also benefit from exploring its contents.